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Economist cartoonist animates style guide

April 18th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Funny

Economist cartoonist Kal has animated excerpts from the news outlets “punctilious in-house style guide”.

It features wracked sheep, racked (and wracked) brains and Dr Frankenstein and his monster.

It was posted on YouTube a month ago but it is worth a watch if you have not yet seen it.

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The Australian: News Limited to create centralised sub-editing hub for Australian titles

October 1st, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

Plans for a new sub-editing hub for News Limited’s titles in Australia, part of News Corporation, have been announced. More than 100 sub-editors and designers will move to the centralised production operation.

Full story on the Australian at this link…

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Headline mishaps at Johnston Press and Newsquest titles

September 14th, 2010 | 4 Comments | Posted by in Design and graphics, Local media, Newspapers

There’s been headline embarrassment in the past week both for Johnston Press and Newsquest. This headline filler was spotted by Jon Slattery in the Glasgow Evening Times on Friday.


Commenting on Slattery’s post Ol Peculier offers a link to another similar headline mess-up over at JP’s the Scarborough Evening News, posted on Facebook.

The use of the Atex production system at JP has been blamed for similar problems which have occured at titles since integration of the new system, such as cropped, misaligned or even missing pictures and other headline gaffs.

Earlier this year the NUJ wrote to the Press Complaints Commission claiming that a memo from Johnston Press management showed the new Atex rules “removed a number of checks for accuracy and seriously undermined the role of the editor, removing their final responsibility for the content of the paper”.

Update: We originally incorrectly linked the Glasgow Evening Times to Johnston Press, it has now been corrected as a Newsquest title.

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NYT: Fact-checking in the online age

August 23rd, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism

Great first-person piece from the New York Times’ Virginia Heffernan on the process of fact-checking at newspapers past and present:

In short, fact-checking has assumed radically new forms in the past 15 years. Only fact-checkers from legacy media probably miss the quaint old procedures. But if the web has changed what qualifies as fact-checking, has it also changed what qualifies as a fact? I suspect that facts on the web are now more rhetorical devices than identifiable objects. But I can’t verify that.

Full article on the New York Times at this link…

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Subs’ Standards: A sub-editor’s defence of Wanky Balls

August 11th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism

Following yesterday’s post on the perils of wikipedia as source material, Fiona Cullinan takes a look at sub-editing errors from a sub’s perspective and takes issue with those who simply brand it “lazy journalism”.

There’s such a thing as “lazy commenting” too, she says, and plenty of reasons other than laziness that can cause such errors, funny as they may be.

Full post on Subs’ Standards at this link…

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If there was an Olympics for headline writing…

July 9th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism

This has been doing the rounds a bit in the last couple of days and we certainly aren’t too grown up to join in. The headline speaks for itself, suffice to say the subs at Reuters had a good laugh. The original article about Walter Dix’s victory at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meeting on Saturday is at this link.


This isn’t the first time US athlete Gay has made it onto the Journalism.co.uk Editors Blog, his surname and a Christian news site stirred up a little humour in 2008…

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Nieman Journalism Lab: ‘The Newsonomics of copyediting value’

May 14th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick

Nieman Journalism Lab looks at the changing role and value of the copy editor and sub-editor as so-called “content factories” like Demand Media and Associated Content expand to meet demands for “newsy” rather than “news” content online:

(…) that newsy, but more evergreen content on everything from going green to health to potty training to TV buying is building a great annuity for the company; it’s long tail monetisable for a long time.

(…) This wide disparity in editing editorial content isn’t wildly surprising; the disparity has grown markedly over the last decade, and certainly the blogosphere making each one of us our own editors has taught us new, uneasy conventions. We’ve gained a lot in the free and easy flow on web-enabled writing and publishing. We’ve clearly lost something too, as finding (and paying for) an intelligent second set of eyes has become a luxury.

That’s left me wondering exactly what value is in good editing. Are there any Newsonomics of editing, value to be gained and harvested?

Full story at this link…

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Sun runs explosive advert with Moscow terrorist bombings story

March 29th, 2010 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Advertising, Online Journalism

This morning I was leafing through an old guide to subbing from 1968. There were a couple of pages in it stressing the importance of ensuring articles do not clash with adjacent adverts. Weight loss advert next to an anorexia story, cigarette advert next to a lung cancer report, that kind of thing.

Well, it seems that, 40 years on, not everyone is paying attention to their text books. Or their website. Not satisfied with putting images of a plane emerging from a ball of fire adjacent to a story about today’s terrorist bomb attack in Moscow, the Sun’s website made use of some nifty graphics to have plane and fireball emerge from the story itself, leaving behind a charred hole.

Although my book has an additional chapter on new forms of ‘electronic sub-editing’, it doesn’t cover this kind of thing in any detail. I checked. It is however called ‘The Simple Subs Book’, so it may, after all this time, still be ideally suited to some.

h/t currybetdotnet

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Jon Slattery: Things you should never say to a sub-editor when on work experience

October 9th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism

A brilliant aside from Jon Slattery referring to yesterday’s story about the Guardian printing an apology to its own sub-editors.

The story reminded Slattery of a remark made by someone on work experience on the magazine he used to work for:

“Workie to chief sub: ‘Would you like to be a journalist one day?'”

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The Jobless Journalist: Week four – Are subbing and reporting roles merging into one?

September 23rd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Job losses, Jobs

This is the fourth post in a series from an anonymous UK-based journalist recently made redundant. To follow the series, you can subscribe to this feed.

Last week I blogged about whether you should apply for subbing jobs if you’re a reporter or a features writer.

This week I’ve spoken to two journalists – one print and one online – about the ‘concertina effect,’ i.e. whether subbing and reporting roles are merging into one, particularly in an online environment.

Peter Sands is a veteran newspaper sub and director of PA Training and insists that the standalone sub is far from dead.

Even with web publishing where content goes live before it is subbed (meaning the reporter has to ensure copy is clean first), Sands says the role of the sub-editor is still vital.

“I would definitely say that you have to have a second pair of eyeballs,” he says.

Sands was editor of the Northern Echo in the early 1990s and admits much has changed since then.

At that time there was real animosity between subs and reporters: “In Darlington there was the Red Lion pub for subs and the Britannia for reporters and never the two should meet,” he says.

While Sands believes the sub is alive and kicking, he acknowledges that their role is being redefined. “The divide [between reporters and subs] has really gone now,” he says.

Sub, web editor and corporate blogger Fiona Cullinan agrees: “Divide?  What divide? The divide is less about reporting versus subbing and more about are you engaged or not, are you digitally included or not?”

“By not engaging more in online environments, traditional journalists are not developing their digital writing or subbing skills, let alone all the other skills that go with publishing to the web, like picture research under Creative Commons licences, image manipulation, linking skills, SEO knowledge, how to upload and promote content, and the big one: the ability to deal with readers talking back to you.”

Apart from the odd typo creeping in when you publish first and hone later, many reporters who write straight to the web can face serious libel issues.

Cullinan says checking factual inaccuracies and avoiding legal pitfalls is ‘perfect sub-editor territory‘.

“From what I’ve read, reporters in multimedia newsrooms are being asked to sub their own work; meanwhile subs are being made redundant,” she adds.

“How reporters are supposed to sub to old-school standards, perhaps with minimal experience or training, and 24-hour newsroom deadline pressures, should be interesting!”

Cullinan also points out that the comments section can act as a ‘rather more public second set of eyes, pointing out your typos and incorrect facts’.

The upshot? To keep up with the changing face of journalism a reporter needs to be savvy about subbing as well as having other web skills, but it is still the sub-editor who has the last word.

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