write – edit – censor

I know a number of people who work for Spanish publications and call themselves redactores. Until recently, I thought they were simply writers.

Looking at the RAE gives a single meaning for redactar:

1. tr. Poner por escrito algo sucedido, acordado o pensado con anterioridad.

This doesn’t help me much, so I checked with a Spanish friend from the world of publishing who told me that redactar is not the same as escribir as it involves drawing together ideas and editing them into a coherent form. One example he gave was “you can’t redactar a shopping list.”

It seems, then, that the job title redactor might correspond more closely to subeditor or editor.

Later, though, when another Spanish friend – whose English is more hopeful than informed – told me he’d just “redacted a blog post”, I realised that the potential for misunderstanding here is huge.

Merriam Webster gives three definitions of the English verb redact:

1: to put in writing : frame
2: to select or adapt (as by obscuring or removing sensitive information) for publication or release; broadly : edit
3: to obscure or remove (text) from a document prior to publication or release

It’s not a word I have ever used, and I’ve only ever heard it used to refer to the removal of inaccurate or sensitive information. So, had my blogger friend written or removed the blog post?

And are all those people I know who are working for the media as redactores actually employed as censors? Perhaps they are simply clerks like Winston Smith.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

2 thoughts on “write – edit – censor”

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