Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Editors say their efforts are for naught, study finds

Editing tops the list of professions whose members feel their work makes no difference whatsoever, according to a study just released by the Pew Research Center.

The annual study, headed up by Pew Workplace Analysis Director Enoko Elenkov, surveyed the nearly 3,000 jobs on the Bureau of Labor Statistics Standard Occupational Classification list. The study’s findings are based on more than two million responses.

“We were quite surprised to see editing join the list of usual suspects, let alone come in at #1,” said Elenkov, “given that prior to this year, editing had never even broken the top 50.” Pew has conducted the survey annually since 1965.

Rounding out the top ten (in descending order) are telemarketers, quarry rock splitters, conveyor belt operators, tire builders, ticket takers, cashiers, meter readers, polishing machine setters, and data entry keyers.

“According to their responses,” Elenkov continued, “editors believe that what they perceive as the precipitous decline in the value of their work has been driven by two related developments: the ascendancy of the Internet as the primary source of information, and the subsequent decline of traditional [hard copy] reading.”

Elenkov said the vast majority of editors who responded to the survey questionnaire work in the print medium. The following typify their comments:

“The dominance of the Web has shortened attention spans with the concomitant inability of readers to spot errors. So what’s the point of what I do?”

“Who but an editor gives a damn about a missing serial comma or dangling participle, especially on a website?”

“Not one of my friends has read a book in the past year.”

“If you want to see the future of the written word, look at Twitter. Come to think of it, the future has arrived—in 140 characters max!”