Everyone (I Mean EVERYONE) Gets Edited

Found this on 101 Books, one of the blogs I follow, and can’t agree more. In my job as a letters-page editor at a daily newspaper (yes, they still exist!), I often have to deal with writers who think they shouldn’t be edited at all. No amount of explaining that we don’t print anything we know to be false, or that some things won’t pass the breakfast test, or that they only have a limited amount of space can convince them that I did not edit them that way to support my conservative/liberal/communist/Nazi/fill-in-the-blank agenda. Okay, I admit it. I’m evil.

101 Books

What you’re looking at below is President Obama’s marks on a draft of his inauguration speech written by, presumably, his speechwriter.

A couple of thoughts on this image: It’s a hard copy. I can’t remember the last time I edited on paper or received edits on paper. The track changes feature on Word is my best friend. Also, look at how neat these edits are. I can’t write on a clean sheet of paper that neatly, much less in the narrow margins of a written document.

Finally, if the president’s speechwriter gets edited–and, in turn, the president himself gets edited on his own edits–then we can safely assume that no one is above the need for editing. If you’re a writer, you better have someone edit your work. Period.

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2 thoughts on “Everyone (I Mean EVERYONE) Gets Edited

  1. In my experience, the better a writer is, the more willing s/he is to be edited. It’s those untalented twits who so resent changes to their copy — the ones with delusions of mediocrity. (Me on phone: “Um, it’s actually more than 400 miles from Minneapolis to New Orleans. Is it all right if I make that change?”)


    • Ain’t it the truth? (Luke, stop flogging me for using “ain’t”!) There are some people who think we’re censoring them and infringing their First Amendment rights if we don’t print their letters, or if we cut out “essential truths” that during fact-checking didn’t hold up (because, of course, fact-checkers are biased). Heavy sigh …


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