The newsroom is a highly romanticized work environment. Reporters banging away at their keyboards, BlackBerrys buzzing with insider tips from networks of secret sources. Editors huddled in conference rooms, debating what news is important enough to make the paper. You can see why this setting has been idealized by Hollywood - and, for that matter, by most of the people who work there.
But there is one aspect of the newsroom for which there is no romantic vision, a job that devalues ingenuity and invention in favour of emotionless, robotic consistency. This position is never mentioned in pop culture re-creations of the newsroom because it belies the assumed high-mindedness of newsmaking. It is the role of the copy editor.
In the newsroom, the copy editor’s job is to fix other peoples’ mistakes. But by the time a copy editor gets his hands on an article, higherup editors have (one hopes) already investigated it for factual errors and adjusted for tone and general literariness. The errors that remain are usually small - a typo here, a grammatical glitch there. The most exciting part of the job is finding one of these mistakes, though this excitement is tempered by the fact that in most cases, the kinds of mistakes copy editor locate and fix would not be noticed by most readers were they left uncorrected. That is to say, copy editors may be the only people who value the job of copy editing.