Thursday, May 31, 2007

Wall Street Journal, Day 4: One Down, Nine More To Go

EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. - Another thing I should note that I find fascinating about the environment at the Wall Street Journal's South Brunswick-based copy desk: when it comes to deadlines---and this week we've stayed through the three major deadlines, for the Asian edition, for the Europe edition, and then finally for the U.S. edition---you would think that it'd be a pretty crazy, hectic place to be, with everyone rushing to get things OK'd and get graphic approved and all that. Not the case here! If you didn't know when the deadlines were, you'd never know when the deadline for one edition had passed. The copy desk is that much of a well-oiled machine. It's incredible in some ways.

Also notable is the reliance on message-sending-via-computer as opposed to face-to-face communication that predominates the copy desk. When one copy editor has a question for another, surprisingly he/she doesn't walk over to the other's desk and ask him/her the question. It's all through IM. Even those who have something to say to someone right across his/her desk IM the other person instead of just saying "Hey." I'm not used to that either, and it's certainly something I didn't expect even from a copy desk coming into this internship. I'd be interested to see if the New York Times copy desk is like this, or Newsday's.

More copy-editing of briefs for us today. By the way, what I mean by briefs are those little articles that pop up either in small boxes or as "In Briefs" opening each section or something else short and relatively unimportant---although, of course, I'm sure a brief item I edited yesterday about, say, Apple Inc.'s iTunes Store initiating the sale of online music without copy protection is important to many. Many of the briefs I'm editing come from one of the newswires: Associated Press, Reuters, or Dow Jones Newswires. Nothing overly difficult (yet), although I'm still taking my time with them. Better be safe than sorry.

I think I'm getting into the swing of things here. In fact, I'm starting to have a little fun for now. I actually got quite excited when I was about to drop an article into the slot and then an alert box popped up on my computer informing me that the layout had been modified and that I'd have to cut things down. Cutting articles down is fun! Of course, it's going to be more difficult to do when you're editing a staff writer's article instead of simply an Associated Press piece; I imagine I'm going to have to maintain constant contact with the writer to get his/her OK on cutting this or rephrasing that or whatever. But hopefully that'll come later. As long as I don't screw up royally on editing any of these briefs.

Well, that wraps up my first week at the Wall Street Journal. No Fridays and Saturdays of work---although I'm still ushering at the State Theatre, since June is apparently the month of marathon dance recitals. So I'll technically be working during my days off as well.

Tyler and I decided that I would take the morning shift (8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.) for the next four weeks, and then I'd switch with him and take the late shift (4:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m.) for the subsequent five weeks. So we'd be swapping shifts somewhere around Independence Day. Here's hoping the rest of the nine weeks goes as swimmingly as this first week has progressed.

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