BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- The dictionary says an editor is “a person who is in charge of and determines the final content of a text.”
But that doesn’t nearly go far enough.
Editors in a news operation make decisions about what stories will be covered and how they’ll be covered. They sniff out frauds, challenge spin, and insist on standards that might otherwise be ignored.
Some people might think of editors as proofreaders on the lookout for typos, but that’s the least of it.
Editors see to it that slander doesn’t make it into the letters to the editor; call-screeners on radio talk-shows weed out the flotsam, or at least they’re supposed to.
Editors have always been key arbiters of taste and fairness.
But they cost money.
That’s why you’re seeing hard-pressed newspapers cut back on the editors they hire, often with disastrous results.
And then there’s the internet, where according to one expert who has studied online behavior, people go to shed the social restraints on impulsive behavior and “cave to their temptations to lash out.”
First, it was the open cesspools of unmoderated comment threads and chat rooms. More recently, social media sites have become the playground of trolls, slanderers, and creeps of all kinds.
And once again, money is overriding social responsibility and human decency.
The big tech giants didn’t want to spend a dime to police their sites, or risk the legal liability that entails. Only now that their wild-west business models are threatened by antitrust litigation and consumer backlash are they renting a conscience.
The world needs more editors.
And the greedheads who won’t hire them need to look in a mirror.
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Listen to Jon's commentary here: