Grammar Police Alert

February 11, 2010

I ran into a Star Tribune friend this morning, who mentioned something interesting about the paper’s staffing. Local media-watchers are aware of the recent major cutbacks in copy editors at the paper; David Brauer has covered it ably for MinnPost. The strategy is to do everything possible to protect the jobs of reporters and other content producers while making cutbacks in other positions — such as copy editors — that don’t directly produce news content.

The paper either laid off or accepted buyouts from 18 copy editors, representing more than 50 percent of the remaining copy-editing staff. I thought those people had already left the building.

Not so, my friend said this morning. The people who took buyouts left on Tuesday, and the people who were laid off will leave after today’s shift. So, the newspapers of this weekend and next week will be the first test of the new system, which will rely on reporters and line editors to do more of the grammar, accuracy and style editing that used to be handled by copy editors.

If you’re someone who glories in catching errors in the newspaper, get your red pencil ready.