Monday, September 6, 2010

Factual queries

I am curious about the copyeditor's role, if any, in addressing factual errors as opposed to "querying factual inconsistencies" as Einsohn mentions. (I assume the author's spelling Oe's name two ways is a "factual inconsistency.") Regarding your last post, it would have taken Memminger only a minute or two to check whether the UH editor was a he or a she, but if his piece was copyedited, should the copyeditor have checked this? If you are copyediting a piece that contains URLs, should the copyeditor be checking each URL?

I assume the copyeditor shouldn't spend to much time looking for factual errors. On the other hand, our editor sometimes recognizes errors of fact in my newsletter, for which I am very grateful!

Are copyeditors ever directed to check for factual errors, or particular kinds of factual errors under light, medium, and heavy editing?


Chad said...

I think Tisha raises a legitimate point--one that I myself have wondered about as well. Einsohn does mention the act of fact checking as being part of the copyeditor's role, but my perception has always been that it's the job of the author(s) and researchers involved with the author(s) to ensure that claims of facts and related matters were all complete and accurate. Clearly, though, I could be wrong. After all, the author(s) could simply be mistaken and also not have access to a team of researchers. Who else would check for this stuff but copyeditors?

lisa said...

Just earlier today, I came across an error in a textbook that references race issues in a movie titled Clash, but it should actually be Crash. I only caught the error because I've seen the movie and did a quick internet search to confirm, but could understand how a copyeditor unfamiliar with the film would miss it entirely.

Pat said...

Tisha asked me after class if I'd responded to her post, and I said no. I meant for the James Frey apology I read today to open a discussion on the copyeditor's responsibility versus the author's. We'll have that discussion in our next class. For more about Frey, see Wikipedia.

Pat said...

The NEW YORKER piece linked to in the sidebar mentions the people who do fact checking there. Mary Norris makes everything sound wonderful, but see the comments for contrary opinions about the quality of the editing at that venerable magazine.