Editor’s note: American Copy Editors Society education fund president Merrill Perlman asked me to say a few words as the 2011 Aubespin scholar at the ACES Phoenix conference banquet on Friday night. Here’s what I presented to this gang of grammar hounds.
In Oregon, it’s my finals week, and next week is spring break. But instead of going somewhere warm and sunny to let my mind wander, I decided to immerse myself in the familiar world of words. Instead of taking a hiatus from learning, we’re all here to bask in it. That’s the thing about copy editors. We thrive on learning, and we seek it out. That’s why I became a copy editor. There’s no better job for the otherwise subversive nerd who wants an outlet for creativity and problem solving. Editors notice things in their organizations, whether it’s a newsroom or somewhere else, and through our learning, we strive for improvement and progress. I’m honored to be among such amazing people in such a rewarding profession.
To switch tracks, I want to talk about an important topic that affects everyone: college basketball. March Madness is in the air, but thankfully, bracketology doesn’t have an entry in the AP Stylebook. We’re safe for now. All rivalries aside, I love the Kansas State Wildcats, my hometown team. So I want to tell you a story that proves the world needs copy editors and that no one is impervious to error. In January, a new name joined the K-State basketball team, but the same players were out on the court. Shane Southwell, for one game, was identified on his jersey as Shane Souhtwell, an embarrassing transposition that made it quickly onto Charles Apple’s blog of hilarious mistakes on the ACES website. I couldn’t believe my favorite team had made such an egregious error, but instead of despairing, I felt optimistic. At least there are still jobs for those of us who want to learn for a lifetime.
As a journalism student, soon to be out in the real world, my professors and ACES have helped me cultivate that love of learning and realize it’s part of who I am. I’ve been lucky enough to work with two copy editing gurus, Doug Ward of the University of Kansas and John Russial of the University of Oregon. They’re both here tonight, and I’d like to recognize them. They both encouraged me to get involved in ACES, and they both encouraged me to learn all I could and to take charge of my editing education. And not so surprising for two academics in the copy editing community, they used to work together at the Philadelphia Inquirer before going into teaching in vastly different parts of the country. I appreciate everything they’ve done for me and all the inspiration they’ve given me in my quest to become a copy editor. And I especially appreciate everything ACES does and will continue to do for the new generation of copy editors.