Copy Editing at The New Yorker with Mary Norris. As I said here, “That was interesting, although I rapidly tired of the interviewer’s snarky-twelve-year-old style (apparently mandatory these days). But from her description of the painstaking process of editing and fact-checking, you’d never guess how error-ridden the magazine is these days.”
What It’s Really Like To Be A Copy Editor, by Lori Fradkin. As I said here:
That was amusing, and I certainly identified with some of her stories, though starting off with the “douche bag” business can only reinforce the standard image of copy editors as humorless pedants who wield dictionaries as bludgeons. I agree with the commenter who said “I enforce Chicago and Webster’s 11th with shock and awe, though I am flexible and respectful of variance and alternatives, as long as they are consistent.” To my mind, a slang term like douchebag is a prime candidate for flexibility, especially at a popular magazine like New York. Me, I would have issued a memo the first time the subject came up, saying “Look, guys, Webster’s says it’s two words; if it’s important to you to spell it as one, I understand and will abide by it, but I want it on record that I provided the dictionary spelling.” And then I would have let it go.
Except that he wrecks his own antiauthoritarian point when he says:
In some cases I might disagree with our style book. I obey it nonetheless, because rulings, even when arbitrary, keep a style consistent, so readers aren’t finding “Web sites” here and “websites” there in the same article. Readers expect and enjoy uniformity as a mark of quality.
Well, duh. Which is why style guides and dictionaries exist and are adhered to, so all his snarking about “the dictionary” is really kind of pointless, except to vent wounded authorial feelings.