Any copy editor who isn’t involved in “content approval” is doing only half the job. Copy editors have the responsibility to challenge questionable material, and many of them are also wire editors, which makes them directly responsible for selecting stories – “content approval.”
Testy Copy Editors has spoken out about political speculation for two decades. It serves no purpose except to promote the horse race. Most of it is wrong. (Most of it HAS to be wrong, because in an election, there is only one winner.) Political speculation usually has some basis, however questionable it may be – polls, perhaps, or talk among the “chattering class,” or discussions with political operatives, most of whom promote one candidate or another. Naming candidates and writing about their chances is one thing; identifying one as a “front runner” is quite another. Two words: Howard Dean.
Before the 1978 conclaves, no one named Karol Józef Wojtyła as a possible successor to Paul VI. No one — at least no one outside the Roman Catholic Church — identified Joseph Ratzinger as a candidate after John Paul II died in 2005. The 1995 book “The Next Pope,” by Peter Hebblethwaite (a longtime Vatican correspondent and author of several other books about the church and its popes; he died before “The Next Pope” was published), was devoted entirely to predicting who might be elected. Ratzinger was mentioned only for his role as a Vatican insider – never as a candidate. Speculation about a pope is further hampered by the lack of the flawed tools used by political reporters – polls, insiders willing to talk, supposedly knowledgeable pundits, and so forth. Speculation in this realm isn’t even informed speculation. Uninformed speculation is not news by any definition.

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