(i) The News Desk:
All stories destined for the newspaper, whether they come from the typewriters of reporters and rewrite men or from the several wire services, teleprinters and other sources-require editing. This duty falls chiefly on the copyreader who sits on the horseshoe shape table called the desk. The city editor and other editors read all the copy.
The reader must have no difficulty in finding out what the story means.
The copyreader must cut and condense each story to the length assigned to it. Condensation applies to words and not to ideas. Verbal frills may go but the meaning must remain. Condensation is done by substituting short words for long ones-even smaller words tor bigger ones; for example, ‘try’ in place of ‘endeavour’.
The copyreader’s notion of arrangement differs from that of the literary man. It is based on the convention of the Mead’ which puts the important parts first and the least important parts last. It also makes for the sequence of ideas.
The copyreader’s style has nothing to do with literary quality. It refers to particular rules which his paper has laid down for spelling, punctuation, capitalisation, abbreviation, use of numerals and the like.
The copyreader edits his copy along the foregoing principles by means of a set of standardised copy reading symbols, which tell the typesetter what section to omit, when to transpose, when to spell a word out and when to contract. He then proceeds to check the copy paragraphs and if the story has sufficient length, supplies subheads.
The subhead is a line to be printed in a type which differs from the body of the story/article and is used to break up the too solid look of a long column. The best rule is to paragraph for ideas and not for mechanical reasons. Copyreaders try to avoid being mechanical when it comes to the subhead.
The look of the column demands a sub-head every two sticks or a stick and a half at least, or say about every 300 or 350 words.
The copyreader aims to have his subheads make divisions in the subject, each division meant for something new, and not merely for repeating what has been already told.
The copyreader usually faces three problems: (i) to tighten up the story and thereby speed up the action; (ii) to cut out the excess matter and bromides; and (iii) to reduce the story so that a telegraphic editor could splash it in a page-one box if he chose to handle it that way.
The Art of the Headline:
Although the copyreader works anonymously, when he constructs a good headline, he feels the pleasure of a creative artist. With short words and in short compass, he can tell a whole story. He knows that the headline must fulfil two requirements-it must attract attention to the story; it must announce the story’s main facts. He sees to it that each headline he concocts does both.