Future of editing
research project

About the project
This research project, being conducted by Susan Keith, a former U.S. newspaper copy editor who now teaches journalism at Rutgers University in New Jersey, aims to track the ongoing evolution of newspaper sub editing/copy editing jobs in the English-speaking world. Technological changes, from the invention of paper tape that could drive line-casting machines to the introduction of computer-based editing and pagination, altered the jobs of sub editors and copy editors in successive waves over the 20th century. In the 21st century, sub editors (as they are known in Britain and several other countries) and copy editors (as they are known in the United States) face new challenges. To learn about these hurdles and how they are affecting the work and livelihoods of sub editors, Professor Keith is interviewing full- and part-time sub editors and copy editors who work for or have recently worked for newspapers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. (Sub editors from other countries with notable numbers of English-language newspapers, such as India and Kenya, likely will be added at a later stage of the study.)

If you are a current or former sub editor or copy editor in one of the countries above and would be willing to talk 
in a phone or e-mail research interview about editing work at your newspaper, please contact Professor Keith at susank@rci.rutgers.edu or 732-932-7500, extension 8235. In scheduling phone interviews, Professor Keith is happy to bear phone charges and accommodate the working hours of copy editors in different time zones around the world. A phone interview ideally would last 30 to 60 minutes, though tighter schedules can be accommodated. Interviews also can be conducted by e-mail. If you wish, your identity and that of your newspaper can be confidential, which means that your name and that of your newspaper would not be used in any presentations or publications that grow out of the research. Instead, you would be described very generally, for example as "a U.S. copy editor who works at a metro daily in the Western United States" or "a former sub editor who worked until 2008 for a regional newspaper in the north of England." There are no known risks to participating in the study, and the potential benefits to journalism education are great. Information you provide about the state and evolution of front-line editing in newspaper newsrooms can help journalism professors better prepare students facing a field in transition.

About the researcher
Susan Keith is an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies in the School of Communication, Information and Library Studies at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Dr. Keith spent 16 years in U.S. daily newspaper journalism, working for five daily newspapers in the southeastern United States. She was a reporter for the Athens News-Courier in Athens, Alabama; wire editor of The Cullman Times in Cullman, Alabama; a copy editor/page designer and a features reporter/weekend magazine editor at the Birmingham Post-Herald in Birmingham, Alabama; a metro copy editor an the assistant newseatures editor at Florida Today in Melbourne, Florida; and a metro and sports copy editor/page designer at the St. Petersburg Times in St. Petersburg, Florida. She earned a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Montevallo in 1982, a master's degree in journalism studies from the University of South Florida in 1999 and a Ph.D.  from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2003. From 2001 to 2004, she was on the faculty of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, where she taught Introduction to Editing and Advanced Editing. Since 2004, she has been an assistant professor at Rutgers University, where she teaches Editing and Design, among other journalism and media studies courses. Professor Keith lives in New York City with her husband -- a copy editor who has worked for newspapers in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Florida, North Carolina, New York and France -- and their 2-year-old daughter.

Professor Keith has published research on copy editing in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Newspaper Research Journal and the Journal of Mass Media Ethics. In addition, she is the organizer of a program titled The Future of Editing that will take place before the August convention in Boston of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, a professional organization for journalism professors.