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The last Red Pen---12/10/12
By Laura Moyer
I THOUGHT I was a barnacle. They'd have to scrape me off the bottom of the journalism boat.
Turns out I scraped myself off.
A week ago I worked my last shift as a copy editor, cleaned out my desk and said goodbye to a terrific group of colleagues.
I walked out of the newsroom and away from a profession I've been part of since I was a college freshman writing youth features for 10 cents a word. Thirty-two years in all, 27 years full time, and 24 of those at The Free Lance-Star.
I've been a reporter, a line editor and a copy editor. I've tried to be mildly subversive--a good thing for a journalist--but I can't claim much success considering how I've badgered co-workers to follow rules of grammar, spelling, punctuation and style.
This morning, I start work as a writer and editor in the publications department of the University of Mary Washington. It's a great opportunity, and I'm excited.
I won't write the Red Pen anymore. That duty may, in time, pass to another copy editor. Meanwhile, the local news desk (localnews@
A hint: Thoughtful criticism is more effective than snark. Journalists are human, too.
To those of you who've enjoyed this column and told me so, thank you. Your correspondence has brightened these past two years. It's a delight to know that our area has so many careful readers and compulsive copy editors.
I'll still be one.
Like you, I'll subscribe to the paper, read it over coffee, smile when I like something and grumble when I don't. I may even write a letter to the editor.
And I'll feel lucky to live in a city that still has a scrappy independent newspaper--a watchdog, a record and a daily miracle.
Laura Moyer is a lifelong compulsive copy editor. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. That "0" is