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Subbing debate continues on Radio4’s Media Show with Greenslade and Cathcart

February 19th, 2009Posted by in Broadcasting, Journalism

If you missed it yesterday, this week’s Media Show presented by Ed Stourton is worth listening to. In light of the recent bush fires in Australia, Stourton asks his guests (Reuters’ Chris Cramer and Channel 4’s Lindsey Hilsum) about generational changes in journalism when reporting in emotional or distressing situations. Then, a look at the fate of Teletext. But then to a debate that’s been dominating newspaperland over the last week following Roy Greenslade’s declaration that subs – as we know them – are becoming redundant.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00hklvr/The_Media_Show_18_02_2009

Brian Cathcart and Roy Greenslade (on the line from Brighton) talk to Stourton.

A quick summary:

BC:

  • “There is this army of people who are out there serving the industry of journalism, who police this and in quite a private and quiet way (…) [They] check the grammar and spelling, check some of the facts (…) check the sort of general thrust of the story, that it all makes sense (…) cut it to length and put a headline on top.”
  • “I don’t think they [subs] should be at the front of the queue for the chop.”

RG:

  • Makes it clear that his comments apply to regional/local and broadsheet or serious newspapers, rather than tabloids. Subs are ‘key workers when it comes to tabloid newspapers.’
  • Subbing outsourcing is already happening, with sub-editors working cross-titles at many papers.
  • “The change I’m expecting next is that subs will be eliminated or re-purposed (…) what we need are writers, reporters who can produce copy which is already accurate and obeys the law, and so on…”
  • Radio and TV presenters are expected to produce material speedily and accurately; “why is it that we don’t expect NP journalists to do the same thing?”

Then to the Midlands to meet the Birmingham Post editor, Marc Reeves (@marcreeves) and one of the media production journalists who works across several of the group’s titles.

MR:

  • The paper is ‘saying to people we need you to be used to this new way of working’.
  • The titles will ‘always need people to look after the finessing of the output (…) certainly the traditional role of the subeditor will be redefined.’

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