Here are two examples of the way I edited longer-form pieces. Both are real-world examples from freelance contributors. The first — a Q&A with Candace Gingrich — was submitted by a freelancer who was known for super-fast responses and timely filing. The downside was his submissions were often perfunctory and omitted what I felt was key information.
We ultimately stopped using him because of these deficiencies. On this occasion, I did not have the luxury of a timely back-up piece, otherwise I would have held this. I scrambled to get additional information from the publicist who had pitched us on profiling Gingrich (who'd just taken a job with a cannabis agency), but she only responded by e-mail and answered only about 30 percent of the follow-up questions I had. Not one of my better Blade moments. So I was left having to massage what I had to work with into something remotely publishable.
My biggest issues with this piece as submitted were two-fold: the questions posed to her evidenced no research, they never probed or got her off her talking points and only at the very end — almost as an afterthought — did she remotely start to pop as a human. I was especially galled that the writer didn't ask her if she was a cannabis user herself, given her new job.
The writer of the second example, also a freelancer, was based in New York, so his proximity to the pre-COVID Broadway world was helpful. Unfortunately, this profile of the short-lived play "The Inheritance" left much to be desired — corny writing, random shifts into op-ed-style tone and commentary, shifts into critical review of the work, sloppy transitions and the list goes on.
This is another on-deadline example of having to clean up a mess and hope there was something publishable in the mountain of drivel that was submitted.
Here is the submitted copy, the edited version as shipped and the page proofs.