Refining the editor's role in inclusion with Alaina Lavoie

Refining the editor's role in inclusion with Alaina Lavoie

May 7, 2021 By David Phandara Conferences

The events of this past year have brought attention to the need for a wider variety of voices and reinvigorated the idea of diversity as an aspiration. ACES: The Society of Editors and its members are contributing to this discourse. 

Alaina Lavoie, an ACES 2021 Online keynote speaker, discussed diversity in editing and how attendees can contribute to solutions for underrepresented and marginalized communities through radical editing. 

“Language is always evolving, which means that tone evolves too, and tone can come across in everything from the words used to the way words are read aloud to an audience… Everything in writing makes an impact, even the small details we don’t expect,” said Lavoie.

Editors might turn to their trusty style guides for help, but this kind of guidance isn't always offered. This is where radical editing plays its role. Radical editing offers stories that are made to be inclusive, even if they have to take unconventional routes to get there.

Radical editors do not need to follow the norm, but instead offer their assistance in shining a light on the writer’s message and aiding in bringing awareness to topics like race, gender, ability, and more that would normally be revised to follow the status quo.

“As editorial professionals, we don’t have to maintain the status quo. We don’t have to go along with what we’ve been told or what might be popular in outdated existing style guides,” said Lavoie.

Radical editing is not to take a neutral stance, but to take a stance that supports writers and enables them to uncover the truth and to include voices from communities who are often treated as invisible. Editors are taking to social media to do just that.

ACES member and student newsroom journalist Victoria Hicks often browses through Twitter and other social media platforms to find spaces for inclusive discussion. 

“I’ve been getting into Clubhouse recently. I love how interactive and intimate the ‘lectures’ are, and love how easy it was to find a community of Black women in the publishing industry,” said Hicks.

Utilizing all that is available from social media reinforces how editors can radically edit, because editors use these platforms for a better understanding on how to edit with and for underrepresented and marginalized communities.

It’s important to look beyond a feed of self-curated information and to extend sourcing through unfamiliar hashtags and users. Accessing information from multiple sources allows for a more accurate perception of issues that affect society. 

Lavoie recommends that editors focus on seeing people as people first and as professionals second. 

Radical editing doesn’t have to be pretty, but when done well, it can contribute to important social changes by providing a path for more inclusion and diversity in the communications.

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