I’m the first pair of eyes to proofread and verify the next big story, a fiery op-ed or routine coverage of a Board of Regents monthly meeting — it’s a big responsibility with a quick expiration date. After I make the initial copy notes and edits, articles cycle through four more editors before they are published that night. While ensuring impeccable grammar and adherence to Daily style are important, I admit I enjoy fact-checking most. This part of the copy editor’s role requires thorough yet speedy digging into public records. We confirm information on account of Ctrl + F and copy-and-pasting because good judgment isn’t enough. As I fact-check, I relish the opportunity to discover something new and obsess over it. Once I’m done, I pass the writing along to the senior copy editor and move onto the next fresh article waiting for me.
The job’s necessity of quick turnover shouldn’t bode well with my personality because usually I get overly attached to people and things — as you can imagine, college has not been easy. Here, everything changes rapidly in four years. You only get eight semesters to do it all: classes, passions and relationships. You lose and make friends faster than you can add them on Facebook. Your identity is molded before you realize who and what nudged you and when. By now, I have grown used to this fast-paced life that’s just like the copy desk’s nightly time crunch. One Thursday night this year, I read 14 articles over the course of three hours, a personal record.
At copy, you do your work well and pass it up to the next set of editing eyes. In life, you should care passionately and understand when to let go. Call it maturity or cynicism, but I am learning to move on and move along faster. Goodbyes and hellos are smoothly blurring together as the weeks accelerate.
There is one big shock, however, that hurts and still lingers: election night 2016.
Though the calendar shows me that we are three weeks removed, I cannot forget sitting in the newsroom as the polls closed across the country. As a copy editor, I was on shift that night and among other articles, edited one of two prepared versions of the editorial board’s breaking leftside. Then, the results began rolling in and coloring in the Electoral College map. As a student of politics and policy, I saw everything I had learned implode in front of my eyes. As a proud American voting in my first presidential election, I was crushed after believing in my candidate for nearly 19 months. The next morning, the draft editorial I had edited — and dutifully sent along in the workflow — was not published. And it never will be.
Gently, the influx of articles to edit and civic duties to uphold coaxed me out of my two-week hiatus and back into a fervent hurry. On some November night years from now, I look forward to recalling this pain and smiling at how far it has pushed me forward. I’ve got a nice college paper story — and now this column — ready for that glorious night when we finally elect the first woman president.