“What Do You Do?” Week: Sarene, Cool Copy Editor
This week, we’re spending a little time learning all about you and the awesome and unexpectedly cool jobs you do. Each one of these profiles was culled from you, dear Frisky Readers, and we’re amazed by the incredible jobs you have. This is our attempt to learn more about what you do for a living.
After the jump, read all about Frisky reader Sarene’s job working at one of the biggest magazines in the world. Sarene, 33, Assistant Editor, Copy Department, Rolling Stone
Location: New York, NY
What’s An Average Day? We normally start with a staff meeting to go over the day’s goals. Each copy editor is responsible for anywhere from two to seven stories at a time. The stories can range from a one-page piece on My Morning Jacket to a four-page article on Chelsea Handler to an eight-page feature on the BP oil spill. Once the assignments are given out, that’s when the real copy-editing process begins: we check for grammar, punctuation and consistency while making sure that everything is written according to our in-house style. Then, if there are any queries for the editor, we send the story back to him or her to address.
The process is then repeated so we all can have one more chance to make any sort of major changes. At that point, once the copy, research and editorial departments have signed off on the article, the copy editor in charge of the story “closes” the page. This means we are ready for it to go to print! Basically, I get to spend my days reading and correcting articles about music, TV, pop culture and current events. And for a pop cultural fanatic such as myself, I couldn’t ask for a cooler job situation.
The Best Part Of Your Job: It’s not uncommon to see famous faces in the office from time to time. I’ve met Barack Obama (before he was president), the Edge, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, Russell Brand, Katy Perry, the cast of “Glee,” the cast of “Jersey Shore,” Kanye West, Taylor Swift (not at the same time!), Craig Ferguson, Jim Parsons (Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory,” love him!) and tons more.
The Worst Part Of Your Job: The late nights. This is par for the course when it comes to copy editing at a magazine like Rolling Stone, so I’m used to it, but it’s never easy working until 1 or 2 a.m. I joke that I forget what my husband looks like on those kinds of workdays because we’re literally two ships that pass in the night!
Surprisingly: When I was hired, I thought I would be doing copy editing and nothing more. But I’ve been very fortunate: In addition to my duties as a copy editor, I write display copy for feature stories (pull quotes, captions, etc.), and I’ve had music and concert reviews published in the magazine and on RollingStone.com. Also, I’ve had the opportunity to interview and write about writers like Michael Hastings (who wrote the now-famous Rolling Stone article about Gen. Stanley McChrystal) and photographers like Terry Richardson for the Contributors section. Their back stories are just as fascinating as the people they cover!
The Craziest Thing: Breaking news may make life in the office 10 times crazier than usual, but the results are always rewarding. In early 2008, I was the copy editor responsible for a cover story on Britney Spears. This was around the time of her infamous emotional meltdown. Since it was a developing story, I wound up finally closing the story at 6 a.m. – after putting in an 18-hour workday. In the car coming home, I was shocked to see Starbucks employees still working – until I realized it was the morning and they were just getting the day started. I had lost all track of time!
Also, of course I’ll never forget when Michael Jackson died. I was in the conference room with Joe Perry from Aerosmith and several of the music editors listening to some of Perry’s upcoming solo tracks. When the meeting ended, the whole internet was buzzing that Michael Jackson had been rushed to the hospital. Before we knew it, we had one week to put together a tribute issue to the King of Pop. It meant working until the wee hours of the morning, every day (I got home at 5 a.m. the day we put the whole issue to bed), but it just made me savor my vacation in Montauk the following week all that much more. I was more exhausted than I’d ever been in my life, but I felt so proud to know I was part of Rolling Stone’s touching tribute issue to Michael Jackson.
If You Weren’t Doing This Job, What Path Might You Pursue? That’s a tough one, because I’m not kidding when I say that this is my dream job. So I guess I’ll just say what I used to say when I was five: “I’d be a trapeze artist!”
Did You Go to School For This? I took a journalism program in college because I knew I wanted to get into the magazine industry, whether it was for writing or editing. But I still maintain that internships at magazines and hands-on work experience are vital to any journalism career.
What Advice Would You Give To Someone Interested In Your Field? Take copy-editing classes if they’re available to you at your college. And, if you get an internship at a magazine, don’t hesitate to ask if you can help out in the copy department if that’s your area of interest. Finally, in this day and age, with texting and IM’ing and emailing taking over as our preferable means of communication, don’t forget that grammar and punctuation still count! As nerdy as it sounds, from the second I started using AOL Instant Messenger oh so many years ago, I didn’t let typing shorthand overtake my style. To this day, my texts, IM’s and emails all have proper grammar and punctuation – and are not written in all lowercase. The less you use this kind of shorthand, the more adept at copy editing you will be. One of the reasons why I got into copy editing was because I just could never stand reading anything that was written sloppily or in shorthand. Even though my friends and husband think I’m crazy to spend so much time meticulously tapping out my text messages, I assure you you’ll never catch me writing “thx” or “whtvr.”