[American Press Institute] Outsourced copy-editing doesn’t necessarily mean increased corrections

Photo: James Abbott

The following excerpt is from "Outsourced copy-editing doesn’t necessarily mean increased corrections," published by the American Press Institute:

Newspapers have explored a variety of options to keep costs down, but one possibility —  outsourced copy-editing — comes with a substantial fear that the quality of a newspaper will decline because articles will be replete with errors. Copy editors housed in the newsroom are familiar with local facts and figures, the logic goes, and that allows them to catch errors that those editing elsewhere would miss.

In a recent investigation, Justin Martin, an assistant professor of journalism at Northwestern University in Qatar, and his undergraduate student Ralph Martins, put the notion to a test. The pair examined five newspapers that had outsourced copy-editing: the Hartford Courant, Raleigh News & Observer, Winston-Salem Journal, Newport News Daily Press, and Toronto Star. The Toronto Star outsourced copy editing to a Toronto-based company. At the other newspapers, copy editing was moved from their newsroom to a parent company.

Martin and Martins compared the number of corrections printed by the paper one year before and one year after each newspaper transitioned to having their copy editing completed elsewhere. The article, forthcoming in the academic journal Journalism Studies, shows that the number of corrections did not uniformly increase at all of these newspapers. Rather, there was considerable variability.

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