FIVE YEARS AS EDITOR
With this issue of the Eastern Mennonite Testimony we conclude five years of monthly issues. The Testimony is published by the Publication Board of the Eastern Pennsylvania Mennonite Church and Related Areas. For publication the editor was first appointed a two year term and since that time has been appointed annually. At the appointment a year ago the editor committed himself for the coming year with a request to be relieved at the end of the year. The end of this fiscal year is now here. The board honored this request and has asked Brother Daniel N. Kraybill of Route 2, Dillsburg, Pennsylvania 17019 to assume this responsibility. Brother Daniel has consented to take up this work and will be the editor beginning with the July issue. May the Lord bless our brother as he assumes this important and not-always-easy task.
The Publication Board has eased the editor's load considerably by helping to decide on subjects for articles and assigning them to different writers. This has also helped to broaden the scope of The Testimony and keep it well balanced.
There are numerous ways in which reporters and contributors can help the editor.
Reports should be in promptly by the fifth of the month. It has been necessary on a number of occasions to make an extra trip to the printers because of reports coming in late. On a few occasions, reports were not published because they came very late. Reports should neatly filled out and worded properly. When writing an article there are a number of things to keep in mind.
Perseverance might be number one. "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again". One of the Mennonite editors of the past is said to rewritten his first editorial twenty-five times. This editor has had similar experiences. After an Article is finished, review it several times.
The introduction should be brief. A whole page full of introduction usually adds power to the article when it is deleted from the article.
In climaxing a point, stay on the subject to emphasized. Some writers weaken their articles by departing from the point to clinch the point. Through eliminating the ramblings and unrelated items from an article it sometimes becomes twice as powerful by being half as long.
Good organization and proper continuity is necessary to keep the interest of the reader. Editors sometimes need to use valuable time reorganizing an article. The content may be very good while the continuity may be very poor.
When quoting Scripture, give the proper reference and quote accurately. Many times the Scripture is inaccurately quoted and sometimes the wrong reference is attached. Writers should refer to the Bible when quoting from the Bible and be sure the quotations, the punctuation and the references are correct.
Writers should have a dictionary close by and use it. Your present editor is not a good speller but in editing a recent otherwise excellent article he went to the dictionary about a dozen times and found about that many misspelled words that needed correction. Even then it is likely that some errors were missed.
Guesswork on the part of writers makes added work on the part of the editors.
In another otherwise good article the writer failed to complete sentence structure. About one-half of the sentences of the article needed to be finished. This is very time consuming for an editor.
Whenever possible, articles should be typed and double spaced, using only one side of the paper. There should be plenty of room left at the top and bottom, as well as at the sides of the sheet. When it is not possible to type the article, double space the writing and use only one side of the sheet.
The name and address of the writer should be placed at the end of the article. We do not publish unidentified articles. We may eliminate the writer's name at times for reasons of modesty when personal experiences are included in the article. However, we never eliminate names when an article is intended to be judgmental or to indict someone.
Editors are responsible to see that articles are easy to read, easy to understand and that they make a spiritual contribution to the cause. They have the tremendous responsibility in having the last word is what may or may not be published. Obviously, like bishops and janitors, they can't please everybody.
During these short five years of editing, the responses in general to the editorial changes that were made have been appreciative. Editors must run the risk of resentful reaction toward them for changes they feel need to be made.
The editor needs your prayers. If you neglected to pray for the editor of the past, ask God to forgive you and pledge yourself to faithfulness in remembering the new editor.
May the Eastern Mennonite Testimony continue to fill a need in the Church and be the stabilizing witness needed in these days of extremism and negligence.
Aaron M. Shank
P.S. Editors need editing sometimes, too. This is the publication board's responsibility.