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A copy editor’s farewell

When I first joined the Talon as copy editor, I was shocked at how quickly the staff gave me their trust. Here I was, a junior English major with an eye for grammar and syntax but zero experience with Associated Press style. My experience in journalism? Nonexistent. And yet, this room full of journalists welcomed me with grace and encouragement.

And a brick called The Associated Press Stylebook.

After two years of copy editing, the numerals page in my stylebook now opens automatically when set on its spine. The book itself bends with the curve of the broken spine, and the edges of a Talon style guide peek out around the edges. It may be one of the most well-loved books I own. Regardless, I’ve certainly missed my fair share of AP style guidelines, and likely misinterpreted many others.

I know there have been a few late nights, curled up with the stylebook, when I felt less than charitable toward the unedited article pulled up on my screen. (But then, here I am writing my goodbye article a day late.) There have been plenty of days where reporters email to warn of an in-coming late story, whether because of personal scheduling, interviewees failing to respond or just pure exhaustion. Or days where I fell asleep before I could get to editing.

That misshapen AP Stylebook sitting on my bookshelf means a lot to me. It reminds me of the grace I received upon entering the newsroom and the grace I received while learning how to edit in journalism. It reminds me of the good, talented people who manage to fit journalism into their packed college schedules.

But it’s getting worn out. So, we’ve come to the infamous “goodbye article” dreaded by most Talon writers.

Thank you to the Talon staff, past and present, for the grace you’ve taught me and shown me. You are a truly remarkable group of people with a passion for truth. It has been an honor to read your work, to watch you grow in your writing, to see everything you have accomplished.

Dr. Patterson, thank you for your incredible encouragement these past two years. I am a better person and a better writer under your mentorship. You may just be a real-life superhero.

Alison, you are a natural leader, a beautiful friend, a genuine human. Thank you for your wisdom and kindness. You are a role model for anyone who wants to make a difference.

Haley, you already have mad skills as a copy editor. I know you’ll take good care of the Talon. Many blessings on your stylebook.

Many assume the job of copy editor is to “fix” writing. Granted, the job itself does center around grammar, syntax and formatting. But it’s also personal. To cipher through articles and become familiar with the idiosyncratic writing styles of each Talon writer, to be trusted to uphold that voice along with the product—this task has been an honor during my time at Oklahoma Christian.        

So thanks, and peace out.

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