If you play the editing game, come try Editors’ Challenge

by Tom Vradenburg

At this time of year, learning should give way to play. So NCR will finish off its season with an indoor game that any member, sports fan or not, would enjoy.

Editor’s Challenge was created in NCR many years ago by Peter Moskos, then our treasurer, and Mary Jean McAleer, then our program chair, when faced with the perennial problem—a light, fun program for the last meeting of the season.

To play the game, you won’t need the cardiovascular endurance of an East African marathoner, the strength of Babe Ruth, or the hand–eye coordination of Wayne Gretzky. The talents you need are what we all have: feel for language, knowledge of the rules of grammar and usage, and the ability to deploy those talents under pressure.

To play Editors’ Challenge, participants are divided into teams of two; everyone who wants to play gets a chance at the easel. For each round, two teams are given the same editorial problem and three minutes to fix it.

The name of the game is copy editing. We’ve prepared a couple of dozen exercise questions, consisting of a text full of problems or a list of possible misspelled words.

At the timekeeper’s signal, each team flips back the covering sheet and starts working on the question. The audience sees the question on-screen.

The two teams’ easels are angled opposite each other and perpendicular to the audience. The teams can’t see each other’s work, and the audience can’t see what each team is doing.

Each pair works on the same question at the same time. They have up to three minutes to edit to their satisfaction before they must put down their Sharpies.

If a team finishes before the three minutes elapse, it may call time by ringing the bell placed between the two teams. At that point, both teams stop editing, and the judges start judging.

The team that rang the bell before the three minutes were up is assessed first. If the judges declare that team’s editing ‘acceptable’, that team wins the round.

If the judges declare that team’s editing unacceptable, that team has lost. The judges then assess the second team’s work; if they deem it acceptable, the second team wins the round.

If both teams’ editing is unacceptable, both teams lose.

The winning team is awarded a point, and continues playing. The losing team returns to their seats for chocolate and consolation.

Beyond the competitive pride of finishing first or second, there will be prizes.

2 thoughts on “If you play the editing game, come try Editors’ Challenge

    1. Wednesday, May 15
      7:30 p.m.
      Ottawa Suites Hotel, 88 Albert St., (near Metcalfe St.)
      EAC members – no charge; non-members – $10


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