Allbritton’s New Pet, TBD Will Not Hire Copy Editors

TBD, the new hyperlocal journalism venture created by Robert Allbritton, will not hire any copy editors, says editor Erik Wemple.
In a story discussing the media’s role in the unnecessary firing of the Agricultural Department’s Shirley Sherrod over some racial remarks, Wemple commented to the Maynard Institute about the site’s editorial plans.

“TBD at its inception will employ no editors whose sole function is copy editing,” Wemple told Journal-isms by e-mail on Wednesday, speaking of those once called “the last line of defense.”

But it’s a little more complicated than not hiring copy editors. More so, it’s a decision to hire copy editors that have other skills, like editing and reporting. Plus, it sounds like a business decision than an editorial one (shocking). But, at least Wemple sees the benefits of having a copy editor. That’s something, right?
Wemple continues:

“We screened our editors for copy skills by administering a copy-editing test to each one. Those whom we hired did quite well on it. We’ll rely heavily on those skills from the start, but as with any web-first or web-only operation, we’ll need our reporters to deliver clean copy in every blog post and article. Would we prefer to have a squadron of copy editors? No doubt. Faced with a choice between hiring copy editors or reporters, though, we went with the latter. We’ll leave it to you and others to judge how smart an idea that was.”