Monday, August 07, 2006

Comprehension is not a requisite of compliance

Editors have an awfully tough job, which is why it seems like there are so few worthy ones out there. You're basically asked to be a polymath, to have a grasp on anything and everything so you can help the writer critique and shape their piece to the best of their abilities. Cole gets into the unique difficulty of editing writing that deals with subjects that might be beyond your grasp:
Editors, however, seem to absorb difficulty differently. If they don’t understand something, they often think it can’t be right — or that it’s not worth writing about. Either the writers aren’t being clear (which, of course, may be the case), or the scientists don’t know what they’re talking about (in some cases, a given).

Why the difference? My theory is that editors of newspapers and other major periodicals are not just ordinary folk. They tend to be very accomplished people. They’re used to being the smartest guys in the room. So science makes them squirm. And because they can’t bear to feel dumb, science coverage suffers.

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