I WORKED SUMMERS AND HOLIDAYS AT A GROCERY STORE WHEN I WAS IN COLLEGE. I was extra help, so in addition to cashiering, my boss would ask me to accomplish odd jobs around the store that he didn’t have the staff for during other times of the year. (Stay with me — I promise this ties into copy editing.)

One of those odd jobs was scan-verifying: literally scanning every item type in the store with an electronic tool and comparing the price that came up in our system to the price on the shelf. Having 100% of them match meant fewer angry customers at cash registers.

Was it grueling? Yes. Did I wear my coat in July while verifying prices in freezer cases? Yes. Did I hate it? Actually … no. I found a great deal of pleasure in correcting the mistakes, so my boss saved the job for me every summer.

I tell this story because it’s the best way I can illustrate how important I consider accuracy and fact-checking.

Later on, I was paid to copy-edit actual words. It was that job — while repairing broken sentences and helping writers capture their voices — that really sharpened my own writing skills. I still hold those lessons closely as a reporter today.

*NOTE: In addition to the work above, I have written most of the headlines for stories I’ve written at the Journal & Courier and Indianapolis Star. Those clips can be found under “Writing.”

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