Day in the Life of a Copy Editor

The responsibilities of a copy editor are inevitably expanding to meet the demands of today’s tech-saavy era. While copy editors originally focused their efforts on editing, slotting and proofing, today, they are now expected to edit, design, write stories, and build and populate Web pages.

According to “Creative Editing,” Cherish Matthews, copy editor of The Tennesseancan attest to the role changes first hand. As our society turns to the internet for daily news, behind the scenes, traditional copy editors face a daunting and unfamiliar task:  to entice readers to choose the paper’s Web site over the millions of other news sites, and to keep them running back for more news.

To get a better feel for a copy editor’s duties, let’s step into the shoes of Cherish Matthews on an average day:

The clock strikes 5 p.m. You walk out the door, and you’re excited to put your feet up and relax. For Matthews, her night has just begun. She sits down and prepares for the next 10 chaotic hours. First, Matthews rims news and business stories. More simply, she is making the content clear and error-free before writing headlines, decks, subheads and cutlines.

About 7 p.m., she receives the online lineup, the budget of the next day’s most important, relevant or interesting stories and their placement online. In between copy editing duties, Matthews manages online-only content as well.The stress sets in. She can’t neglect the editing duties because the paper has to get out in time, but she can’t ignore the website as millions of people are depending on it for the morning’s news.

It’s 11 p.m. and the paper is done, but the job is not over yet. Matthews builds the next day’s homepage and updates other parts of the Web site, embedding interactive content to set a captivating tone and keep the reader’s attention.

After the job is complete, Matthews heads home. Her job requires a lot of responsibility, but for someone passionate about journalism, she doesn’t seem to complain.


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