Story Behind the ‘Copy Editor’s Lament’ Song

Christopher Ave, Credit = Tim Barker
Christopher Ave, Credit = Tim Barker

Earlier this week my editor sent me a link to a song that one of Poynter’s faculty members found via Twitter. After hearing the “Copy Editor’s Lament” song, I couldn’t help but want to write about it.

I interviewed Christopher Ave, the man who wrote and recorded it, and wrote the piece shortly thereafter. I felt as though I could relate to the song and to Ave’s reason for writing/recording it, which made the story that much easier to write.

I especially like one of Ave’s quotes: “A lot of us in journalism sort of chuckle at copy editors’ slavish devotion to style, but you know what? They can really save your butt.” So true.

You can read the story here:

Christopher Ave has publicly referred to himself as a human safety net who double-checks facts, corrects punctuation and fixes grammatical errors.

He’s not a copy editor, though.

He’s a journalist and musician who wrote and recorded a first-person song, “Copy Editor’s Lament,” about a copy editor being laid off.

“AP Stylebook is my bible/Helped me stop a suit for libel/But nothing ensures my survival now/And I don’t know what I’ll do/After I’m through/Killing my last adjective,” he sings.

Ave, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s political editor, said the song isn’t a tribute to a particular copy editor, but rather a musical testament to the value of all copy editors — those who have been laid off and those who are still in newsrooms.

[READ MORE …]

Published by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

Mallary is a mom of two young kiddos -- Madelyn and Tucker. Mallary absolutely loves being a mom and often writes about the need to find harmony when juggling motherhood and work. Mallary is the Assistant Director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin, where she manages the Center's various programs related to distance learning, freedom of expression, and digital journalism. Previously, she was Executive Director of Images & Voices of Hope and Managing Editor of The Poynter Institute’s media news site, Poynter.org. Mallary grew up outside of Boston and graduated from Providence College in Rhode Island. In 2015, she received a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University. She now lives in beautiful Austin, Texas, with her kids, husband Troy and cat Clara. She's working on a memoir, slowly but surely. You can reach her at mjtenore@gmail.com.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: