LEADERSHIP: In fall and spring terms, the copy desk is typically led by a copy chief and two senior copy editors. In summers, this desk typically is led by only a copy chief.
STAFF: In fall and spring terms, the copy desk typically has four junior copy editors and interns as needed. In summer, the copy desk typically has two copy editors and interns as needed
PLANNING: This desk should hold one meeting a week to debrief on day-to-day matters, production shifts in particular and prepare for upcoming special publications. Additionally, the copy chief or a senior copy editor should attend all afternoon news meetings with all newsroom editors. Organizationally, you need a master scheduling system to ensure staffing needs are met for all times agreed upon by the copy chief and editor-in-chief.
COMMUNICATION: Leaders of this desk should regularly check the press release email account (for fact-checking reference), monitor key Slack channels and be familiar with coverage in competitors like The Norman Transcript, The Oklahoman and others. Communication should be a blend of in-person where possible and in Slack for broader transparency and understanding throughout the broader group of newsroom editors and their respective desks. Often, that manifests in a Slack channel for copy, #production-crew and other pop-up channels if needed. It’s especially important for the copy chief to communicate and coordinate with editors of other desks about story needs, progress and possibilities. The copy chief also must communicate effectively with and be a liaison among the editors of the design, photo, video and copy desks as the work they shepherd draws on all those areas.
MINDSET: The most successful copy desks are active audience advocates, embodying the role of our first readers/viewers. seeking out answers to question they might have, smoothing out anything that would inhibit their understanding of our coverage and its intent as well as writing headlines online and in print that are clear, concise and compelling. Additionally, editors should keep in mind the varied audiences – on campus, in the city/state and beyond – our work can serve.
BUILDING BLOCKS FOR DESK ORIENTATION: Copy desk resources