Back in the days when newspapers still employed copy editors, the job was devoid of prestige. The copy desk was the place where reporters fetched up once their legs or livers gave out. It was the last resort. Managers too lazy to supervise or too cowardly to fire would dispatch to the copy desk anybody who had bungled every other assignment.
I am not making this up, you know. At one time I had a supervisor, a former reporter, who described the copy desk for which he was responsible as “a necessary evil,” his little joke, ha-ha. And on two occasions of which I have direct knowledge, people resigned from the paper rather than work under me—and I was not at all sorry to be used as the nuclear option.
Twenty-odd years ago the repute of the desk was so low in the business, the morale on the desk so depressed, that a series of leaders of the American Society of News Editors started looking for ways to improve the situation. They drew the attention of Pam Robinson and Hank Glamann, who, with their backing, founded the American Copy Editors Society, ACES, in 1997.
Their goal for the society was to raise the profile of copy editing, their means training to raise the standards of the craft. And they succeeded.
Today ACES, now ACES: The Society for Editing, is no longer dominated by newspaper copy editors; its focus is on editing more broadly understood. Its more than 2,400 members include freelance editors and university professors, and people who work in book publishing, online publications, nonprofits, government agencies, and corporations—anyplace where writing is in need of editing.
Hank Glamann died June 24 at the age of sixty-four. He had long been out of the newspaper business and out of direct involvement in the organization he co-founded. But he attended the society’s national conference in Portland, Oregon, two years ago and got to see how the work he began had grown and evolved.
By happy coincidence, Pam Robinson was also present, and I had a little time to talk with both of them and bask in the glow of the remembered time when we were trying to build the organization and discovering just how many smart and energetic colleagues around the country were keen to join the effort.
Hank Glamann was a colleague and a friend. We worked together in ACES, we shared those late-night conversations in the bar at conferences, we shared triumphs and setbacks.
Those of you who did not know him, along with those who did know him and would be grateful for a reminder of his large-scale personality, would do well to read David Sullivan’s remembrance of him, one of the best of many tributes.
Mark his memory. All of us who edit have benefited from the work he started.