Monday, November 3, 2008

"Editors" Who Don't Actually Edit

The problem with some of the companies that I write for is that they hire low-priced "editors" to look over the incoming articles. These aren't editors in any real sense of the world. They aren't required to actually edit anything and they don't have a hand in deciding the content for the site, they just look over incoming articles to make sure they conform to house style.

When you come from print publications and are told that every article you send through is sent to an "editor," you might be foolish enough to believe that these people actually fix the occasional typo or that they have any kind of idea about grammar, punctuation, at least one specific writing style, etc. This is no longer the case. When these companies hire people to "edit" an article for $2-$3 per article, what you get is random words being thrown in, the occasional ridiculous headline change and sometimes grammatical errors inserted into the text.

Just recently I discovered that one such article in my name was edited to add parentheses around a word in a subheading for no reason. Oh, and did I mention that a question mark was added in those parenthesis? Yeah. The subheading wasn't a question and there was no discernible reason for the additions. The crazy part is that the article wasn't flagged, i.e., I wasn't notified that an editor had any problem with it or that any changes were being made. So, I had an article sitting there for weeks with that crap on it and I had no idea.

On another site, I recently had an "editor" reject an article that was supposed to be a piece about what an internship is. The reason for the rejection? The article relied too heavily on the point that an internship is a way to get experience. Seriously. About a year ago on yet another site, I had an "editor" add a few words to an article, one of which she misspelled. She then flagged the article for me to fix the misspelling. Some days I'm almost as irritated as Otto.

Here's the thing- a lot of people are stupid. A lot of them have no business writing or "editing" anything. Those people often get jobs that I can't get and sometimes they end up having power over my work. Why? According to my brother, it's because my writing sample website doesn't have any graphics on it. Personally, I think that it's possible that it comes down to who may or may not be giving other people blow jobs, but that's just speculation.


Kimberly Ben said...

L. Shepherd, I've gotta agree with this post. I was kind of shocked to find than many online editing positions pay around $2-$3 per article. I would imagine that just as with low pay writers, these comanies get what they pay for with low paid editing positions.

I wrote a keyword article for a client and the client sent it back for revision. I read the editor's comments which included direct insults toward me (saying I didn't know what I was taliking about), profanity, mispelled words and bad grammer. Yeah, real professional. I went back and checked my source. These were medical related articles and I used the Mayo Clinic's website as a source. Still, I check some other sources just to be sure, and they all had the same information I used in my article. I sent the source links and the article right back to the client.

Like you, I have editing experience and have gotten passed over for jobs that I am well qualified to do. It's frustrating sometimes, but I guess it's the nature of the freelancing beast. I pick myself up and just keep going.

L. Shepherd said...

I've gotten that too- nasty insults for no reason. It's almost like that $3 is going to their heads and they feel drunk with power. About a month ago I got comments so insulting that the site ended up reprimanding the editor.

lorela said...

oh my, so anybody could become an editor now?!?! im speechless.. :(