In many ways, the role of an editor is the antithesis to that of a writer. A writer creates, allowing his or her imagination free rein, and trying to build images for the reader through words. They then pass their work on to the dreaded editor who, at least in the view of many writers, has the sole purpose of deadening their voice and removing all interesting passages. In the best of all possible situations, the writer and editor work as a closely-integrated team, accentuating each other’s strengths and canceling out any weaknesses.
One given, however, is that an editor’s job description is to find fault. It is the editor’s job to search for the mistakes all writers (and editors) make and to minimize their number. Time pressures count and deadlines always exist and some errors slip by unnoticed or content has to be erased because it is questionable and there is no time to verify. Thus, most editors (or at least those who care) are almost always dissatisfied with the final product. It is the nature of the occupation, and of publishing, that, with more time, the final result would be better, tighter, more accurate, more readable.
And for editors working on regular publications, whether with daily deadlines where yesterday’s news is tomorrow’s wastepaper or with more leisurely schedules, there’s little time to relish in what was done well. Rather, they tend to look at what could have been better, try to work out how to make it so next time, then focus on the next issue. There’s simply no time in most deadline schedules to appreciate what has been achieved.
Which is why structuring such appreciation into a schedule is so vital, and why The Jeju Weekly’s first anniversary celebrations on May 1 were so important for those of us in the “engine room” of the publication. By that, I mean not only the founders, but the office staff, editorial staff, writers, translators and many other helpers whose efforts contribute to getting each issue out. Frequently we are all too occupied with other things to sit back and consider what we have done.
And, although I have only been part of this publication for half of its first year, sharing the celebration allowed me to appreciate just how much publisher Song Jung Hee and her partner (in life and in print) Kim Gyong Ho have achieved, and what a privilege it has been for those of us involved to help.
Happy 1st Birthday The Jeju Weekly! May you have many, many more.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer
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