“Arjun?” “Ketki?” “Camryn?”
I’ve called their names dozens of times, asking to be seconded on my copy edits or begging for help as I stare blankly at a headline that just won’t fit. It’s refreshing; having been the co-editor in chief of my high school newspaper, I was the one who usually fielded any given question. But now, I found myself on the other end of the conversation: Does this headline look OK? Is the photo caption too biased? Can I cheat a bit on the word spacing to make a quotation mark fit? (The answer is “no” most of the time, much to my sadness and dismay.)
The best part, though, is that I learn something every day. Subtle grammar rules and even more oddly specific style rules. Seemingly interchangeable words that actually have distinct meanings. The many, many names of campus buildings, groups and administrators. But most importantly, I learned about the ridiculous hoodie Milo Yiannopoulos wore when he came to campus earlier this year (the image is strangely, yet still very unfortunately, seared into my mind).
Never have I ever quoted “the more you know” meme so consistently.
It’s more than I could’ve hoped for as a copy editor. I applied for the position because I love language in itself (and maybe because there’s something satisfying about catching/calling out others’ mistakes …), but the learning curve is its own reward. Future essay-writing style tips aside, being a copy editor means that I get to read the news ahead of time, before it’s published, and that I can pretend I know what I’m talking about for at least 30 seconds in a conversation. (Football, anyone?) And heck, just being in the office is an experience — listening to editors banter about what’s going on with the paper truly captures the “behind-the-scenes” work in the newsroom.
And then there’s the office itself. I was captivated when I walked past all the cubicles for the first time; it was something about the esoteric memes, I guess, or something about the wall quotes (meme-orable things people say in the office, forever immortalized in ink and paper) strewn across the room, well-worn with time but timeless nonetheless. There’s something comforting, I think, in an office that feels active and alive — it makes the work and the people a lot more worth it.
Six weeks have passed since I started at The Daily Californian (which makes 12 shifts and 24 hours — a whole day! — spent in the office), and I’ve got seven more to go. It should be fun — I really do look forward to it. And may I be blessed with fitted headlines for the rest of my days.
Contact Sydney Trieu at [email protected]