Monday, November 22, 2010

Eats, Shoots & Goes Extinct: Omit Needless Editors?

"[E]ditors are obsolescent -– they are giant pandas in a receding bamboo forest. As the supply of editors outstrips the demand for them, the cost of the service of editing declines. New York is bursting at the seams with wildly talented editors who are under-employed, or about to be."

-- Babble and Nerve Media co-founder Rufus Griscom, musing about a profession he says is going the way of the hammered dulcimer, replaced by "content producers." (From his post: "The Fate of the Purple Spotted Editor: Evolve or Die")

Griscom explains:

"Editors have historically had two jobs: finding interesting material, and making it better. Next generation editors, if we still call them editors, will do two things: identify great content creators, and help them package and distribute their content in a way that is mutually beneficial. The relative value of the brands of content creators is ascendant, and publishers need to think more like coaches who are also business partners."

Griscom is not arguing against the need for quality or accuracy. As the comments on his post suggest, many "content consumers" still have high expectations there. One finger-wagging reader flagged this sentence: "Why is demand for traditional editing skills is going away?" Griscom fixed the typo and replied: "We have just demonstrated the efficiency of crowd sourced copy editing."

In online media, "editor" and "producer" titles are frequently used interchangeably. Calling these hybrid practitioners "preditors" is one of the oldest jokes in not-so-new media. This evolving species of content chimeras will need traditional editing skills. But those skills alone will not be enough to survive.

(Panda pic above from Wikimedia Commons. Hat tip to MediaJobsDaily for calling my attention to Griscom's post.)

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