Many thanks to Sandra Kleinsasser, Executive News Editor of the Austin American-Statesman, for her answers. Sandra oversees the day and night news production desks as well as features and business production desks -- that is, the designers and copy editors.
It is not a steadfast criterion for a copy editor. We have hired folks without complete degrees or even degrees in other fields. I once tried to hire an editor who had a degree in library science. He was an awesome copy editor, but he decided to go to another paper instead. Many applicants have English degrees as undergraduates or even graduate degrees.
Why do you look for a journalism degree, or what do you look for instead of that?
Is the picture different for entry-level applicants vs. experienced applicants?