Skip to main content

Op-Ed and Editing...

Recently, New York Times ran an article to clarify readers how articles appearing in Op-Ed columns are edited. (somewhere I read it is called Op-Ed because articles were placed opposite to the editorials). It was interesting to read how the process works. Sample this one,

"We also check assertions. If news articles - from The Times and other publications - are at odds with a point or an example in an essay, we need to resolve whatever discrepancy exists.
For instance, an Op-Ed article critical of newly aggressive police tactics in Town X can't flatly say the police have no reason to change their strategy if there have been news reports that violence in the town is rising. This doesn't mean the writer can't still argue that there are other ways to deal with Town X's crime problem - he just can't say that the force's decision to change came out of the blue.

How would we resolve the Town X issue? Well, we'd discuss it with the writer - generally by telephone or e-mail - and we'd try to find a solution that preserves the writer's argument while also adhering to the facts."

It reminded me of how editing was done when I was a reporter. In an overwhelming majority of cases, either my story was cut from the end for want of space or changes made without me being consulted. I would not blame anyone as I used to file a majoriy of the reports late when the editors are flooded with reports from all centres. However, it is only in some rare cases I have seen editors getting back to me for clarifications. I would like to read some articles how reporters' copy are being edited in some of the major newspapers like FT, WSJ, NYTimes and Washington Post.

Here is the link of NYTimes article,


Ramnath said…
Johnny, it's about Op-ed pieces. (Of course, i noticed you didnt strictly compare reports and essays, and also, you said you would like to see how news reports are edited in NYT etc.)

I guess, reports don't (and can't) get the same treatment that Op-ed pieces get, even in NYT, WP, FT etc, with all the time constraints.

I remember reading about a NYTimes reporter, who literally had to dictate a report while running.

And in a recent essay on Watergate scandal (by one of WP ediors) I read he assigned a story to Woodstein and started working on the backgrouner immediately. (In news reports, a journalist's real claim is the 'scoop' in the para one)

If this is the case, imagine newspapers following the same process for news reports.

But with Op-ed pieces - and stories in weeklies like Economist - writers have to approve the pieces.

Madhavan said an Economist story will go to print only after a journalist sees the final draft and acknowldges it with a signature.

Popular posts from this blog

Being hopeless....

Three months back when my mom was visiting me, she experience heart palpitations for two consecutive nights. Worried I called my cardiologist friend who asked us to visit him in the government hospital on that day as it was a non-OPD (out patients day) duty for him. Apparently non-OPD days are less crowded. As we sat waiting, we saw many worried parents bringing their just born babies to treat serious heart problems. What struck me were the faces of these parents - a feeling of hopelessness. This was their last hope to treat their infants in a state-run hospital as they don't  have money to take them elsewhere.

Fortunately, the staff at this government hospital were treating patients sympathetically. I hoped the patients would have got the best of treatment available. In comparison, patients were treated as cattle herds at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), India's premier hospital. To get an cardio OPD appointment, you will have stand in the line from 5 PM …

Happiness, street vendors, and negotiations......

Few days back I was watching a documentary series, "India's Frontier Trains". The three-part series was on trains connecting India with its neighbours - Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal. Yes, there is a train connection between India and Nepal, and that train is the only functioning train for the whole of Nepal.

In the episode on the train between India and Bangladesh, the program documented a life of a chocolate seller inside the train. He boards the train in the Bangladesh side of the route. A sole bread winner for a family of four, he earns by selling chocolates in the train.

He faces a perennial problem: because of hot weather conditions, his chocolates melt. In those hot days, his earnings are meager. A basic cooling device like this costs seventeen pounds and he couldn't afford that.

What moved me was the insensitive nature of some passengers in haggling with this struggling chocolate seller. They would force down the price by 10 pence or more (which is more tha…

Be a democrat in US, but root for BJP in India

Before I say anything I would like to disclose my knowledge of political affairs in India. I had lot of assumptions and predictions for this just concluded elections, and none of them came true. So I am not going to talk politics and waste time. But this election season reminded me of a funny incident when I was a student in Arizona State University (ASU) in 2004.
As a thumb rule, I discuss politics only with close friends. So my flat mates in Phoenix had no idea about my political likes and dislikes. So on the day when BJP lost the elections, one of my flat mates – who used to hate George Bush and an active supporter of Democrats – saw me in that morning, and said, "What John, people have done this" in a disappointed tone.
He saw no contradiction whatsoever in supporting democrats in US and at the same time supporting BJP in India. It was after that I started noticing Indian students in US, and people who got their jobs in US recently, most of them exhibited this kind of du…