Three articles approach the question from unique yet complementary angles:
John McIntyre, “Evaluating Copy Editors,” from You Don’t Say:
“If you happen to oversee copy editors, one of our nation’s fast-dwindling resources, you might be interested in some suggestions on how to evaluate their performance. If you are a civilian, unclear what copy editors do, apart from filing for unemployment insurance, this post will suggest to you what is being sacrificed at the publications you read. “
John White, “3 Ways to Make Your Subject Matter Experts Think,” from How to Hire a Copy Editor:
“Why would you run the risk of antagonizing a customer or engineer who is doing you a favor by allowing you to pick his brain for a white paper or case study?
This writer is smart enough not to try to impress the interviewee with her knowledge of the business or technology. She doesn’t need to know more in those fields to make the interviewee think.
It’s all in the three questions she poses them to explain it.”
Ruth Samuelson, “A Missing Sense of ‘Place’ on Acker,” from the Washington (DC) CityPaper:
“Behind every article, there a few—sometimes many—fact-checking dramas you’ll never catch wind of in the final draft.
You think your story’s done. Then, you spend two hours selecting one word. Seriously.
Case in point: . . . “