The most fundamental fact of journalism, however, is that it is not one job but two, with two distinct functions - writing and sub-editing - and that it is better for a writer to embrace the hard fact of sub-editing at the outset than to wish for ever that it didn't exist. Both roles are concerned with the battle to transmit words in the best possible form, yet oddly the armies are not on the same side. To the sub-editor, you see, written words are not sacrosanct.
Well, I've been an assigning editor and a copy editor (aka, sub-editor). I've also done a bit of writing. As an assigning editor I always made sure to get to know my writers' sound. Whenever I would point out that a given sentence or phrase didn't sound like them, they invariably agreed and made a change. It was pretty much the same with copyediting. Routine changes to conform with the paper's style were no problem, but any good copy editor talks any serious change over with the writer. Still, as a writer, I remember one copy editor once removing from a review I had written everything I had put in to demonstrate that the book under review was funny. After he was finished with it, you just had to take my word that it was.
Dave also sends along this: Who Copyedits The Copy Editors?
Actually, copyeditors do get some recognition, principally by way of writing headlines. My only journalism prize was a first prize from the Society of Professional Journalists for writing a feature headline.