Case Study 3: Protocol

8 Feb

Getting a story ready for publication can “take a village,” as the cliche goes. Before it’s published anywhere, a story written for a news organization goes through an editing process that generally involves multiple people looking at it critically. The editing process is defined by newspapers’ protocol, which exists to facilitate quality control in the newsroom.

Protocol ensures that the people involved in the publishing process do their jobs to the best of their abilities at every step of the way. It also ensures that people are not doing jobs they were not intended to do, such as a reporter cutting down a story for content or a copy editor calling an additional source to add information to a story.

When an editor drops the ball and lets a story with shady edits slip through, protocol determines how that mistake should be dealt with. In this example, an editor changed a pronoun in a story that implies something very different about a source. It is possible, of course, that the reporter made the mistake and Leslie Manning is, in fact, a man, and that mistake was discovered after a round of thorough, protocol-required fact-checking. However, if the edit was not a result of copy editors doing their jobs and correcting errors, there are other issues at stake. Who made the change? Why was it made? Did the person who made the change have the authority to make it?

When I copy edit stories, I am wary of making changes outside of cleaning up copy on my own. I always consult an editor before making a big change (rewriting a lede, taking out a paragraph, etc.) that I think will improve a story because I don’t want to inadvertently change its meaning. Following protocol is important so that there are as few opportunities for error as possible.

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One Response to “Case Study 3: Protocol”

  1. Ronald R. Rodgers February 8, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    Excellent re Rubric
    Before it’s published anywhere, a story written for a news organization goes through an editing process that generally involves multiple people looking at it critically. OH, IF THAT WERE ONLY STILL TRUE
    Protocol ensures that = A protocol ensures that OR Protocols ensure that

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