Interview with Merrill Perlman
Angie Yu (age 8)
On June 28th, 2015, we had the opportunity to interview Merrill Perlman. Merrill was the Copy Editor for the New York Times but she retired in June 2008 after 25 years, and now she is working in Central Park as a volunteer tour guide. We were excited to learn about her job as a copy editor. As we got the camera ready, Merrill sat down and the first journalist scooched down beside her to start the interview.
What is your daily job like?
Well, When I worked for 25 years as an Copy Editor at the New York Times and my daily job was news. My job was to take someone else’s story and edit it and make it better.
Do you have any tips for journalists to be better?
First of all, remember who you are writing for. You don’t want to write for yourself. You want to write for your audience. So who’s your audience? Will they understand this word, and the second?
Read, read, read, read, read. You never know when that tiny piece of information is going to come in handy.
What is the most awkward part of being an editor?
Well, the most awkward part of being an editor is when you have to correct someone’s work, because you can’t say, this isn’t very good because that’s kind of insulting. So instead I say; Gee, I think you meant to say this.
In one word, how would you describe being an editor?
What was the most memorable time of being an editor?
The most memorable time of being an editor was in 911. September 11th 2001 because it was an awful time in New York City and my job was still to do the news and I didn’t have any time to think about what was happening, until days later. So it had the most impact on me, it may be also the saddest as an editor, because I also had to see what was in my very city.
Why did you become a journalist?
I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was in college, this is a bad story. I was sitting in my dorm, and then a bunch of people came and said, “hey, we’re going for ice cream, want to come?” I let a stranger buy me an ice cream cone and it turned out that they were all journalism students, and I walked into the student newsroom, and it was like, I’m home. This is what I want to do. I had no idea I wanted to be a journalist. I know I wanted something with words. It was like, lightning hit. It was fabulous.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
I’m not sure, I’m actually really proud, I went to college at the University of Missouri and every year the University of Missouri gives out 9 medals to people and journalists, and I’m getting one this fall. It’s kind of like, you know the Pulitzer Prize? So the Pulitzer Prize is the top prize in journalism, but they don’t give them to editors, they give them to reporters. So to me, it’s like getting a Pulitzer Prize, I’m really proud.
Do you ever get bored of editing?
I can never get bored of being an editor! You know why? Because they pay me to read, and I get to learn things so I can’t think of anything more fun than being in the park, than reading something and learning something and getting money for it. l don’t get money for being in the park.
Well, that was the end of the interview! It was a great experience and I learned so much from Merrill. I wish I could do something like that again!