As text editors, headline writers, all-around journalists and generally awesome people, we copy editors at The Dallas Morning News really, truly rock. I hate that we’ve only seen one another via Zoom for the past 13 months while working from home.
So that said, it’s my honor to that, for the eighth year since 2011, when we regularly started entering the national headline contest of the American Copy Editors Society — now called ACES: The Society for Editing — our copy desk has been judged as one of **THE BEST,** at least when it comes to headline writing. (But we’re one of the best at everything else too!)
Our submitted portfolio placed second in the nation, trailing only The New York Times and finishing ahead of the third-place Los Angeles Times. An editor from The Washington Post took first place in the individual category, but The Post was shut out of the staff awards.
In previous ACES competitions, we’ve actually beaten them all, placing first for headlines written in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015, and finishing second for headlines from 2016 and third for our portfolios of headlines written in 2013 and 2017.
And when I say “portfolio,” here’s what I mean: Out of the untold scores of headlines that a newspaper’s copy editors write in a year, each paper gets to submit a mere 8 to 10 in the contest. So that, loyal readers, is no easy whittling task.
What makes our showing this year even more impressive: In some of the earlier years when we placed first, we had a much larger staff and were still considered a national news organization. In more recent years, as layoffs and other departures have decimated our staffing, circulation and revenue, we had dropped to the category with regional newspapers. Last year, we didn’t even enter because time got away from us and the deadline passed.
After ACES revamped the categories, putting all newspapers with 100 or more journalists into the top group (we have about 130, down from over 400 when I started at the DMN in 2000), that bumped us back up with the top dogs like the NYT, LAT and WaPo. But we’ve beaten those guys before, and after we’d chosen our portfolio in January, I had a good feeling about our chances.
I am so incredibly proud of the work we do on our copy desk. I’m proud of our whole newsroom, but my editing and layout colleagues and I have been through a lot the past few years, especially when our ranks were gutted in 2017 and print design was outsourced to GateHouse in a short-lived fiasco. Recognition like this is an affirmation by other journalists in the industry of the great work we do. And we’ll take it.
It’s been my privilege to have been a part of the process of selecting our staff headlines to be entered in ACES the past 11 years and to do the work of submitting them on my colleagues’ behalf — at first by mail, then online the past several years.
GREAT JOB, my copy desk teammates!!