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What is editing?

“EDITING DEMANDS JUDGMENT, imagination, dedication, and some creativity—all qualities derived from experience rather than principles and formulas.

“The editor decides what shall and what shall not go into his publication on the basis of what he conceives to be the publication’s mission and philosophy.

“The most useful man on the newspaper is one who can edit.

“One obligation of the editor—to improve an essentially well-written piece or to turn a clumsily written one into, at the very least, a readable, and literate article, and at the very most, a beautifully shaped and effective essay which remain true to the author’s intention, which realizes that intention more fully that he himself was able to do. He cares about the English language; he cares about clarity of thought and of grease of expression; he cares about the traditions of discourse and of argument.

“Editing is an empirical act. It is intuitive. Experience confirms intuition but does nothing to develop it.

“Editing demands many intangibles—judgment, scholarliness, background, memory, aggressiveness, motivation, curiosity, imagination, discretion, cynicism, skepticism, and even some genius.”

 

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