Outsourced Credibility? A quasi-experimental study of corrections at newspapers pre- and post-outsourcing of copy editing

Justin D. Martin*, Ralph J. Martins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


This study tests the assumption that outsourcing copy editing harms accuracy. Authors content analyzed all corrected errors in five newspapers in a full year both before and after outsourcing of all copy editing (N = 3255), while controlling for newspapers’ circulation during the two-year period. Literature on media credibility informs the analyses. Five daily newspapers in the United States and Canada have outsourced all copy editing either to parent-company editing centers in other states or cities (Hartford Courant, CT; Raleigh News & Observer, NC; Winston-Salem Journal, NC; Daily Press, Newport News, VA) or a commercial firm external to the newspaper company but based in the same city (Toronto Star). Results are mixed but do not generally support the suppositions of some industry observers that outsourcing copy editing uniformly harms accuracy. The Daily Press experienced a significant increase in accuracy, that is, a fall in average daily corrections. Average corrections did rise significantly at the News & Observer, but were unchanged at the other newspapers. In terms of specific corrections, mathematical errors at the newspapers decreased after outsourcing, while visual and layout errors rose.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-267
Number of pages21
JournalJournalism Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 25 2018



  • accuracy
  • consolidated
  • copy editing
  • corrections
  • credibility
  • newspapers
  • outsourcing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication

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