Editors, let us be heard!

At the tail end of this year's ITA AGM, an important subject came up for discussion: Editors. Are they adequately represented by the ITA? Should they be? If the ITA is designed to encompass editors as well as translators (which I always assumed it was), does it do so successfully? If not, what should be done about it and by whom? Should editors have their own association? Should they belong to both associations? Should more editors join the ITA? Should they be heard more? Should the ITA have more editor-oriented activities? Should the ITA's name explicitly reflect the fact that it represents editors, too?

The subject seemed to take some people in the audience by surprise. Personally, I had never given it much thought, because I am both an editor and a translator and have always felt perfectly at home in the ITA. My presentations at ITA conferences were mostly from the point of view of an editor, but were just as helpful to translators as to editors, if not more so. And a propos presentations – I may take Kelli Brown's advice and upload said presentations onto SlideShare.

Just like translators constantly have to educate clients and drill it into their heads that translation is a profession and a skill, (rather than just "typing the text in a different language",) so do editors. Most people are not aware that written material – be it original text or a translation, a letter to the Authorities or a school paper – needs editing. Even translation agency employees are often in the dark. The [usually] young people who work there were never taught the difference between, say, proofreading, light editing, heavy editing, re-writing and even copywriting. As a result, they don't know how to explain things to prospective customers, who would rather not pay extra for editing. (Whether customers are charged extra for editing or whether editing is included in the cost of a translation job is a different story.) A veteran employee at The Gang begged me to please-please "write something" that would explain to her "girls" what editing was all about. Another agency I sometimes do work for has more than once sent me a text, asking for "proofreading", whereas it quickly turned out that the text actually needed serious editing.

In brief: Editing needs good PR. The nature of editing needs to explicated. The need for editing should be crystal-clear to all; it should go without saying. But since so far it isn't and it doesn't, let's jump in and do it: let's all chip in and educate the world about editing. Okay – not the world… but whoever you can, to the extent that you can. We should help the ITA promote us, and we should help ourselves.

Politically correct?

The other day I was approached by an international charitable organization, let's call it the Unbiased Helping Hand, with a request to edit their monthly newsletter.
I said yes please. The document was around 4000 words long, the remuneration was reasonable, and – surprise, surprise – the text was quite well-written. In other words, it did not require much fuss or editing, so the reasonable remuneration turned out to be quite worthwhile. I was aware that this is an international organization, and assumed the text had to be politically-correct in every way imaginable. So I was careful with any changes I made.

In due course I received feedback on my work.
UHH, I think you've taken it too far…

Not wishing to tackle political topics on this blog, I will nonetheless point out these two questionable preferences on the part of UHH:
Gaza crossing, quoth UHH, not border crossing, because it's not exactly a border. Google "Gaza border crossing" and you'll see that such disparate news media as Al Jazeera, the BBC World Service, Haaretz, and others are quite happy with calling it a border crossing.
Gilad Shalit, quoth UHH, is the captured soldier, not the imprisoned soldier. Presumably, ever since he's been captured, he is not in captivity. Or else his captivity does not constitute a prison, which – perhaps they reason – is for civil offenders?

I did not get into an argument with them; no point. Their newsletter, their preferences.