Yesterday, I went to see The Post, a movie based on the true story of The Washington Post’s decision about whether or not to publish top-secret government documents concerning the Vietnam War.
Spielberg and his team did an amazing job creating tension in and out of the newsroom. The score, the quick cuts, the fast pace – it all worked together to feel a lot more exciting than meeting your average deadline.
One scene, however, really caught my attention (no spoilers!). I’ve searched, but I can’t find it in any of the trailers. It lasts just a few seconds, but it was so relatable to me. With a major deadline looming, the story is handed to the copy editor – hard copy, of course, as it’s the early 70s – and he’s told he has only a few minutes to do his job. He starts immediately crossing out sentences, marking up the text, making the same decisions I make every day as an editor but in much more severe circumstances.
It’s funny how many times I’ve been up against a deadline and I’ve felt completely stressed out, like the world might end if I don’t finish editing and send the story off to the client. My first reaction was that this looks like my dream job! And then I thought of the pressure of working so quickly on such an important document, the high stakes, the visibility. It’s not for the faint of heart!
Editors are often unsung heroes, especially in the news business. Despite receiving little recognition, it’s their work that ensures clarity and validity. It may not be the most glamorous job, but you wouldn’t want to skip it! I really appreciated even the brief inclusion of this vital step in the publishing process.