How to edit good

Copy editors who want to keep their jobs at the retooled New York Times should have the following skills, says a memo to the staff. (Poynter)

Core Skills

  • Attention to detail (in terms of acceptable style, grammar, punctuation, language, word choice, etc.)
  • Accuracy; ability and willingness to check facts
  • Agility and efficiency with respect to all aspects of editing work
  • Understanding and facility with display type on all platforms, including social media
  • Ability to lift stories
  • Ability to assess and discuss with reporters the best “voice” for stories in the earliest stages of story development
  • Ability to guide and work well with reporters
  • Ability to collaborate and communicate well with colleagues

Specialized Skills

  • Subject-matter knowledge or expertise
  • Foreign language skills
  • Other unique skill(s) or experience
  • Strategy/Planning/Forward-Looking Skills
  • Ability and judgment in conceptualizing stories and story lines
  • Ability to think through stories and topics effectively and constructively with reporters
  • Ability to prioritize on a continuous basis and pivot as priorities change based on the news
  • Adaptability to new modes of storytelling as they evolve


  • Solid news judgment, including the ability and willingness to identify and drive forward stories with impact and steer away from dutiful, incremental news
  • Solid judgment about what not to cover and the willingness and ability to exercise that judgment
  • Solid judgment about story questions worth raising and pursuing, understanding what can be tackled in any given time frame
  • Clear understanding of and adherence to Times standards, ethics and policies
  • Ability to manage work effectively on deadline
  • Ability to work independently and with minimal supervision


  • Understanding of our current systems (e.g., the fundamentals of Scoop) and ability to use them effectively
  • Willingness and ability to experiment with, learn and use new technology
  • Initiative and interest in changing/developing technologies




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