Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Wall Street Journal, Day 3: Sink or Swim

EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. - Today I walked into the copy desk at the Wall Street Journal office and was asked by the global copy editor: "Do you want to start editing some briefs?"

So after two days of worrying about how I was going to handle trying to figure out how to navigate the various computer programs and applications, I was basically pushed into figuring all that out in one fell swoop today.

That's another fancy of way of saying: today, I started editing copy. Nothing major, mind you: our main copy editor is taking a gradual approach to acclimating us to the ins and outs of this profession. Thus I start out small and then end up big. That's the design anyway; a couple of days ago, one of the editors told us the story of a former Dow Jones copy editing intern who, in one week, missed factual errors in a couple of the articles he edited and got those articles mentioned in the paper's Corrections box. That intern ended up not editing much else other than boring old briefs. Damn, I really hope I don't turn out like that. Making some kind of progression in the next nine weeks would be nice.

I wonder if many copy editors consistently leave work worrying about whether they missed something or forgot to do something else. Certainly that's the way I felt after leaving work today having edited about three or four articles in all (they were all short, but I took my sweet time with all of them). Even with the millions of questions I asked and all the time I spent, I left work feeling, Oh man, did I forgot to check this spelling? or What if I forgot to check that figure? or something like that. I don't know if I could handle feeling that kind of anxiety every day after work. But then, do most copy editors actually feel that anxiety on a daily basis? Maybe they do, but they've learned to trust their own skill and judgment, trust the judgment of their superior editors, and move on. I think that's one thing the Temple residency taught me, in its own strict manner---when faced with deadlines, you can't obsess over every single detail. You sometimes have to just send copy off and move along.

Moving along: that's certainly something I've had to learn over the years, instead of dwelling on mistakes made. Maybe this internship will turn out to be helpful in ways other than journalism-related after all.


Anonymous said...

You're doing great so far. Keep it up! This is going to be the best experience of your life!

Kenji Fujishima said...

I sure hope so. Thanks for the encouragement!