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Allison Morrow, DJNF/Temple 2007, writes about her “new” editing job at The Wall Street Journal in New York City and how much things have changed, are changing, since the global copy desk based in South Brunswick, New Jersey, was disbanded only a few months ago.

It’s been slightly more than a month since I began my “new” job at The Wall
Street Journal
– those quotation marks are there to gloss over the past year
in which I was hired as a copy editor, laid off, rehired and promoted, which
I blogged about earlier. The rollercoaster ride I anticipated in that
earlier post has proved a jolty, neck-breaking, stomach-churning one – and I
can’t seem to stop smiling at every loop. The starkly new editing structure
at the Journal, phased in this past September, follows a frightening
industry trend of doing more with less.

I often joke that I am unqualified for my job, and in some ways it’s no
joke. We have fewer editors now, and each of us is carrying a hefty load. In
addition to wire editing and copy editing, I’m being asked to slot, which
means clearing stories and headlines edited by people who were my mentors
when I was hired just over a year ago. On any given shift, I have to flip
back and forth between a news editor’s concern for broader structural issues
and a copy editor’s attention to detail. Web editor will be another title
tacked on to us soon. Eventually, the goal is that we will have a team of
universal editors capable of handling copy at every level of production.

It’s a lot to ask of us, but we’re still putting out a paper every day,
and while stressful, it can also be exhilarating. As the late-night editor
for the international desk, I’m the poor soul often found scrambling to get
early Asia news into our later editions. When South Korea decides to slash
its key interest rate in the morning, it adds some chaos to my 10:45
deadline, but I know that such news is important to our readers. So I
hustle: rip up page 12, edit our reporter’s story, write the headline and
add the news to the A1 “What’s News” list, send a readback to the reporter
and make any fixes for the final edition. It’s more work than I could have
anticipated I’d be doing, and at times I’m convinced my superiors will
realize what a mistake they made in giving me so much responsibility. But
I’m learning. Every night, every deadline.


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