Tell us a little about yourself, including how you got started as an editor?
I’m the copy chief for BuzzFeed News, working in our LA office. My husband and I have three cats, and I’m obsessed with plogging (picking up litter while jogging on the beach). Careerwise, I had planned to be an English teacher — until I started working as a TA during my last semester in college and realized it was not a good fit. A career assessment test pointed me toward editing, and I landed a job at the only book publisher in San Diego.
What is your area of focus and why did you select this niche?
When I started at BuzzFeed five years ago, our copydesk read all kinds of content — quizzes and listicles, of course, but also features and breaking news stories. I always preferred working on the news side (I’d been an entertainment reporter myself for a spell), and I was thrilled when our news division became so robust that our copydesk was absorbed under that banner.
Walk us through a typical workday. How do you manage your time?
This question — which I hear from most job candidates — is so difficult for anyone working in digital news media to answer, since there is no typical workday. But here goes: I usually sign on from home at around 7 a.m. (BuzzFeed News is headquartered in NYC, and most of the staff signs on at 10 ET.) and check/respond to email, read our daily newsletter (Incoming), scroll through various Slack channels, check in with our NYC copy editor, respond to DMs, and sometimes join a video meeting. The real workday begins by checking our copy queue and then diving into a longer draft (which we copyedit in Google docs) or backreading live breaking news posts. Our copydesk is extremely organized — we track requests on a shared spreadsheet, use an emoji to claim published breaking stories via a Slack bot, and communicate with one another in a dedicated Slack channel. We also strive to tweet from our @styleguide account, which I’ve mostly handed off to the other copy editors.
What is your favorite thing about being an editor?
The people. Copyediting isn’t often viewed as collaborative work, but I have the privilege of working with sharp, driven, thoughtful, witty, and compassionate writers, editors, and designers. A copy editor’s work is invisible to the public, but virtually everyone in our newsroom recognizes and expresses their appreciation for what we do. It’s unfortunately not uncommon for copy editors to have adversarial relationships with writers and editors, but that’s not the case at BuzzFeed News: They are receptive to our efforts to normalize inclusivity by avoiding gendered terms, using person-first language, and ensuring diverse audiences and chosen identities are represented.
What is your biggest challenge and how do you work through this?
Multitasking in this 24/7 news, multiplatform environment. A typical schedule in book editing, where I started, was nine months to a year. Inconceivable! Even in my first digital media job, we had the luxury of two full reads of every post before it went live. We still do that for larger features and investigations at BuzzFeed News, but for the most part we have a very tight turnaround.
What advice do you have for someone who is just starting their career as an editor?
Read style guides — the AP Stylebook, the Chicago Manual of Style, the BuzzFeed style guide (ahem), the Conscious Style Guide, the GLAAD media reference guide — front to back/top to bottom. You don’t know what you don’t know! Take copyediting tests online (e.g., https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/11/11/insider/copy-edit-this-quiz.html) — if you have a long career, you’ll likely take dozens of them when you apply for jobs. I’ve reviewed countless cover letters by people who are good proofreaders or excellent content editors and then bomb the copyediting test.