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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.

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