The use of editors was industry standard in the past, but today most writers find themselves relying more on online grammar checking applications and Microsoft Word spellcheck than actual living editors. The death of the editor has created a void and has led to many interesting developments within the content world and for content marketing services, especially in the realm of online writing, blog posts and magazines. Copyediting Magazine even wrote on a phenomenon by which some don’t even seem to be aware editors exist and how the field is steadily narrowing and redefining itself.
What’s In a Word Count: The Origins of Fluff
No publisher ever ordered a book from Hemingway that was required to be exactly 80,000 words, but today content marketing is all about the word count. This has led to a proliferation of edicts against “fluff” and many writers train themselves to avoid this. One never heard about fluff in the days of yore, but this is because that was precisely what editors were for. Without editors, many writers find themselves having to go through the extremely difficult process of managing their own word count. Most writers don’t write fluff because they are attempting to pad their word count, but simply because people simply are naturally verbose. Writers are required to unlock the natural editor within if they are to write concisely and informatively.
Mistakes That Proliferate: The Internet Is Changing Language
The vast majority of content that people consume today is distributed through the Internet. Even books today are usually downloaded and distributed through online vendors. This has led to the Internet having a huge impact on language itself, especially due to the death of editors. Language has become very concise and short, and many online periodicals now write in a very similar language. The blog post has become more popular than the article, and many writers are finding themselves straining to write purely for an online audience that has a very short attention span. This also leads to many structures that were never seen before—such as headers and single paragraphs. Some technical issues that would have previously been considered stilted or unnatural to editors are now proliferating precisely because of a lack of editing.
Marketability: How SEO Would Drive Editors Crazy
One reason that editors no longer exist is because many of the strictest forms of language have been rendered obsolete. Search engine optimization techniques are often targeted at simply developing extremely marketable text rather than text that is free of errors and clumsy constructions have become commonplace. Since marketers want text at the lowest possible price, they don’t want to pay extra for editing or proofreading. This can lead to an overall lack of quality but increase in cost-effectiveness, and usually costs the writer very little except for pride. However, it also leads to writers that can be quite prolific without having a solid background in the written language. Even publishing houses find themselves cutting back on editorial staff, according to Publisher’s Weekly, due to their focus on advertising and marketing.
The death of the editor may be considered bittersweet. A lack of editing puts writers more in control of their writing and pushes writers to be more conscientious. However, it also means that writers aren’t always aware of any flaws within their writing and that they often have to do the work of two people on a single item of work. The death of the editor also means that content tends to drift more towards what is marketable rather than what is strictly accurate.
Jenna I is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.