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Subs to stop writing headlines after editors raise ‘concerns’

NewsquestSub-editors at a regional publisher’s production hubs will no longer write headlines after concerns raised by editors.

Newsquest has announced the switch after some editors claimed to be changing “80pc or more” of the headlines written at the hubs.

The change in policy will see headlines, subheads and straplines written in local offices, rather than by production journalists working at the hubs in Newport and Weymouth.

At present, headlines are added by subs working at the hubs after pages are sent to them from Newsquest titles across the country. Copy editing will still take place from the hubs following the change, which was due to come into effect today.

Since 2014, Newsquest has transferred much of its production operation to the two hubs, with sub-editing jobs being lost at regional centres across the country as a result.

The switch was announced in an email sent to Newsquest’s regional editors and managing directors by group production director Leighton Jones shortly before Christmas.

In the email, which has been seen by HTFP, Leighton said: “In order to create a more efficient workflow and address the concerns of some of you that you change 80pc or more of the headlines that are supplied, it has been decided that headlines, subheads and straplines on stories will no longer be written in the copy-editing hubs.

“The hubs will still continue to copy-edit the rest of the content and you will see a new status of ‘Headline Req’.

“You will be able to run a query on this status and from there, open the story to add these elements. It is intended that the copy editing will be carried out first and the story will have these elements added when sent back to the region on the status of ‘Headline Req’.

“Please be aware that it is the responsibility of the local centre to complete the story when the elements are written.”

Newsquest has not responded to requests for further comment.

However the National Union of Journalists said the email amounted to an admission that subbing hubs had “failed.”

Chris Morley, NUJ Newsquest group coordinator, said: “The NUJ warned loudly and clearly that producing local papers hundreds of miles away would hit quality. We warned that the staff, often inexperienced, being recruited to the hubs, especially at Newport, were placed in an impossible position by the company with lack of training and support and having to contend with vast numbers of titles.

“The results were all too unfortunate to behold and now it seems the shrinking band of remaining editors have at last accepted that the NUJ warnings were valid all along and lack of quality is undermining their titles with the reading public.

“It makes a mockery of course of the recent Investors in People award given at Newport. It is now really vital that this added workload which will be passing back to local centres must be recognised by Newsquest through the recruitment of additional staff to ease the burden on its over-pressed journalists around the UK.

“Great damage has been done with the faith placed in a failing hub experiment by senior managers but it is not too late for Newsquest to give its local teams the resources they need to produce quality journalism that the public will be attracted to.”

84 comments

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  • January 4, 2016 at 8:56 am
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    The reason for this?
    Local centres have staff with experience and local knowledge.
    The hubs have staff with neither. Not their fault, but not the way to produce quality newspapers.
    Still, at least someone cares enough to try to correct the issue.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 9:02 am
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    Does this mean those subs will continue in their jobs, just copy editing? That’s a big reduction in traditional responsibilities and let’s hope we’re not winding up for a mass layoff here. I await NQ’s first comment of 2016 with breathless excitement.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 9:28 am
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    So headlines, as I understand it, will be written in local offices where people actually understand what the story is, not somewhere miles away. How long before stories are being subbed at local offices for the same reason. Case of reinventing the wheel?

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  • January 4, 2016 at 9:38 am
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    So young reporters with zero support and a lack of training will do the job better??

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  • January 4, 2016 at 9:45 am
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    So if I complain that 80% of my meals are badly made I will have to make them myself and still pay the restaurant for the privilege?

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  • January 4, 2016 at 9:50 am
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    Bet you read as many ‘Headline Req.’ in the papers than headlines! I see plenty of ‘blablabla’ in JP titles. My particular fav errors of the moment appearing in ads in the same edition of one paper: ‘framed salmon’ and ‘Amercan pool’ (front page solus). One advertiser I know sent in his draft copy for his advertorial and found it in print, word for word. He naively asked me if anyone checks for errors. How sweet!

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  • January 4, 2016 at 9:54 am
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    It’s clear that the whole system of working in this way is not fit for purpose. More damage to newspapers that saved money but accelerated the decline. What a mess.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 9:55 am
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    Good grief! What further proof do the suits at Newsquest need that the subbing hub idea doesn’t work? Do they ever read their own newspapers?

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  • January 4, 2016 at 9:56 am
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    In the brief time I experienced working in a Newsquest newsroom before baling out to protect my professional integrity and my sanity, it was almost as if the interface set up between newsroom, production and ad setting (in three locations – go figure) had been set up to kill any hope of smooth production. No doubt the numpties behind this crackpot arrangement have kept their jobs.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 10:04 am
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    I wonder when the reporters are going to stop reporting ? Another triumph for central subbing.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 10:06 am
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    When are the very few remaining production staff supposed to have time to do this? And if they have to write the headline and straps, as well as the picture captions, what is the point of the subbing hub?

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  • January 4, 2016 at 10:18 am
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    So what’s the point of having a subbing hub if the work ends up being done in centres?

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  • January 4, 2016 at 10:22 am
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    So will there be a new role of headline writer created at all of the local centres to cope with this increased workload which will probably also fall on junior reporters?

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  • January 4, 2016 at 10:24 am
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    HTFP please note that Newsquest has never described the staff at Newport and Weymouth hubs as sub-editors. They call them copy editors – and that, it now appears, is all they will be.

    So the hard-pressed, decimated staff left in Newsquest offices around the country, who presumably have been changing so many headlines in an effort to maintain some veneer of quality in their products, now have headline-writing added to their workloads. This is no doubt on top of copy-editing sensitive stories themselves for fear of what might come back from the production hubs.

    Is that a stable door I hear being bolted?

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  • January 4, 2016 at 10:28 am
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    “Subs to stop writing headlines”

    That’s not something you see every day is it?

    How very modern. Whatever next?

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  • January 4, 2016 at 10:41 am
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    Hmmm – so local subbing by people who know their areas.

    Where have I head this before?

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  • January 4, 2016 at 10:50 am
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    good move. life is local as another company busy closing its offices used to boast. But it makes you wonder about the quality of staff at the so-called hub. You really don’t need to be Brain of Britain to put together an acceptable heading. It helps if you have some reporting experience.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 10:51 am
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    If they can’t get headings and standfirsts right, it does make you wonder what on earth is going on in the copy. First step back to local subs?

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  • January 4, 2016 at 11:00 am
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    Seems like two backward steps at the same time.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 11:02 am
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    I suspect this will another “review” of staffing in the subs’ department, which will doubtlessly lead to more jobs cut.
    Time was when editors actually trusted subs to write headlines because that was the job they were skilled at and got paid for.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 11:10 am
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    Is there anyone left at local level to write the headlines? I strongly suspect this subbing hub is costing NQ more in loss of their publications’ reputations and circulations than the cost savings they made by making local subs redundant. Great business plan…not.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 11:16 am
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    Speaking from the hub in Weymouth, as one who checks these things to make sure our headlines are being kept, 80 per cent is utter rubbish. I reckon 10 per cent at most.
    The hub was established – we all hated the idea, but it’s one we’re having to live with due to this dreadful software. Many people relocated and moved heaven and earth to be here.
    To then turn round and heap yet more work on reporters and remove any creative outlet from the hub just suggests to me more cuts are on their way.
    This has already been put back to January 18 after editors complained. After all, the reporters now create the pages, put stories on the pages and proof the pages, spending hours of their own unpaid time doing it.
    Let’s hope some common sense sees this latest decree overturned – after all, it’s still easier to change a handful of headlines than it is to headline every NIB, motoring page and property blah in your paper, which will add hours to every reporting team’s workload.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 11:17 am
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    …by the way. This was announced before Christmas and supposed to start today (4th). But was almost immediately put back two weeks.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 11:42 am
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    Copy editors are the exact opposite of what a sub should be. A sub should be an experienced (and probably somewhat jaded, but still extremely capable) journalist who’s simply sick and tired of dealing with the public. They can use their acquired skills to check facts, spelling, even legal issues.

    These copy editors tend to be entry level, they have no idea what the journalist is writing about half the time.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 11:43 am
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    What an absolute farce. If the minimally-trained graduate copy editors (please never call them subs – they are not) cannot be trusted to write accurate, appealing or legally sound headlines, then why on earth do the senior denizens of Newsquest’s ivory towers continue to imagine they are any more capable of correctly dealing with the rest of the copy?

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  • January 4, 2016 at 11:50 am
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    Shove a broom handle up my backside and I’ll sweep up on the way out.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 11:50 am
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    As someone who used to proof stories after they came back from the hub I would say 80 per cent was closer to the mark. The quality of the headlines was atrocious.

    Partly, I expect because of the dreadful knowledge software which is very restrictive and partly because Newsquest wants to save money by hiring subs straight out of uni.

    Good subs aren’t just born. It takes time, experience and training.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 11:53 am
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    Jeff Jones – there are many of us here who are jaded old subs. Many.
    I’m now so jaded I’d work for Lidl in a heartbeat.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 12:05 pm
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    If the comments on this story are typical of the accuracy of your average newspaper reporter/journalist, then no wonder the industry’s f***ed

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  • January 4, 2016 at 12:20 pm
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    Most of the copy editors in the Newport hub are either hugely experienced, have completed journalism degrees or excelled on NCTJ courses. To call them minimally trained is nonsense. The 80 per cent line is just wrong, simple. No point in keeping trotting that out – ten per cent more realistic, maybe 20 at the very most.

    AMD here we go…great stuff – if only we had more people with your attention to detail….

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  • January 4, 2016 at 12:23 pm
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    Does this mean those subs will continue in their jobs, just copy editing? That’s a big reduction in traditional responsibilities and let’s hope we’re not winding up for a mass layoff here. I await NQ’s first comment of 2016 with breathless excitement.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 12:27 pm
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    Staff at JP subbing hubs don’t edit copy or headlines.

    They were stopped very quickly due to the sheer workload and after it became obvious they weren’t reading stories and were putting on headlines that didn’t fit.

    IE getting guilty/not guilty verdicts wrong.

    Now the hub just creates the page and places copy/pics and then the work is subbed in office by news editors.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 12:35 pm
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    > A sub should be an experienced (and probably somewhat jaded, but still extremely capable) journalist.

    As a lot of hub subs are. The idea it’s all newbies is a myth. The graduates have been through NCTJ training and learning on the job for a couple of years now.

    I took a quick look at the last 20 stories I subbed and not one headline had been changed.For those of you who’ve skipped previous comments, the ’80 per cent’ thing isn’t 80 per cent of ALL headlines, but wild exaggeration by a few people who’ve never accepted the hubs.

    Given how many stories are copy/paste releases (with things like ‘an image can be found here’ hyperlinks not cut out), we’re all wondering how centres will find the extra time to headline everything.

    A case for those few content managers who did complain of ‘beware what you wish for’.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 12:39 pm
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    Worth noting this from Press Gazette’s Heroes of 2015 article, summing up the demise of the sub-editor:

    “Margaret Ashworth is a sub-editor who worked for the Daily Mail for 39 years and composed the newspaper group’s style guide.

    “Ashworth said the Mail subs have been “relentlessly downgraded”. She said former editor David English was “proud to have ‘the finest table in Fleet Street’. Good headlines were occasionally rewarded with a case of champagne”.

    “But, according to Ashworth, his successor Paul Dacre “has never really grasped what subs do, apart from, as he sees it, holding up production”.

    “She said: “I think he fears subs rather as people in the Middle Ages feared monks, because they were the only ones who could do the magic reading and writing.””

    A case of champagne, eh? Not just a bottle!
    There was a man who knew the value of a good sub!

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  • January 4, 2016 at 12:47 pm
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    one day someone will come up with the bright idea that loc al papers should hire sub-editors to work from local offices as they will know the area better than someone sitting in a hub 100/200 miles away. Why didn’t I think of that before?

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  • January 4, 2016 at 1:05 pm
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    This is just an underhand way to get the already hard-pressed reporting teams to do everything.
    The next step will be to dismantle the production hub, and get the reporters to edit their own copy.
    All at the cost of much extra stress, longer hours, and of course no extra money.
    Think of the savings…. checkmate.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 1:10 pm
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    Next they’ll stop all their staff photographers from taking pictures. Ohhh, hang on…

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  • January 4, 2016 at 1:30 pm
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    emily moor. reporters stopped reporting in the true sense long ago. They mostly re-hash press releases.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 1:35 pm
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    Hub Grub’s right. Reporters – even juniors – are writing stories, putting templates on pages, filling them and proofing. Shortly before I left my last Newsquest newsroom I was spending hours of my own time doing the subbing side of the job just to make sure my pages were finished and sent before the deadline. All for a monthly pay packet that was less than that of a forklift truck driver. Any creativity I might once have felt drained away, especially when I saw the dull headlines that appeared above my copy. That said, I don’t blame the subs. I know there are some very good ones at Newport. The suits have no understanding of the value of a skilled sub, just as they have no appreciation for anyone else in editorial.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 2:00 pm
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    If the ‘subs’, sorry copy editors, are continually churning out rubbish headlines, why isn’t someone stepping in at the hubs to train these ‘youngsters’ in headline writing?
    Why is it that the ‘subs’, sorry content managers, left at the local centres have to pick up the pieces of shoddy work with far fewer staff than little over a year ago (even fewer after the pre-Christmas axeings) be able to complete that very same work before the introduction of the all-singing, all-dancing, fandabidozee Knowledge system?
    The copy editors need to step up their game, not pass the buck back to local centres – after all, that’s what the copy editors are there for, to do their jobs!
    Without having to write the headlines, content managers are already struggling to reach the standards required to produce newspapers of any kind of quality. Standards have sunk low and it surely must be impacting on paper sales and therefore also on advertising revenue.
    Newsquest is yet another step closer to killing valued printed press.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 4:40 pm
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    Look at the Newsquest systems.
    Look at the Newsquest staff turnover figure.
    Look at the Newsquest titles.
    Look at the leadership qualities displayed by Newsquest senior management.

    No, don’t look at any of that. Just look at the profits being shipped Stateside. That’s the only game in town.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 4:52 pm
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    This will mainly impact on the content managers, eg news editors, who are already more hard-pressed than the reporters.
    Also newshund, most reporting at the NQ paper I’m at is not about rehashing press releases and there is still scope for reporting in the true sense. However I’m aware there is a general shortage of senior reporters at local and regional level (I wonder why…) and so I’m sure there is much press release jiggery pokery going on elsewhere. And maybe at some point soon there won’t be enough reporters here to do anything other than that either.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 5:02 pm
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    If 80% of the headlines are changed prior to going to print and some people commenting think they are still tosh, what does that say? The headlines I see, on the rare occasions I look at a Newsquest paper, don’t seem to be too bad. Just bland.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 5:16 pm
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    If we are to believe that the NUJ can make a difference, then surely it needs to try and have a good relationship with management so they listen. A ‘I told you so’ approach isn’t going to do that. I also would love to believe that people would be attracted more to newspapers which had subs in local newsrooms doing lovingly-crafted headlines, but I don’t think there is any evidence anywhere to support that.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 5:28 pm
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    Damned says “… but I don’t think there is any evidence anywhere to support that.”
    Plummeting circulations speak for themselves, I think!

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  • January 4, 2016 at 5:43 pm
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    I’d say 3-5 headlines of mine get changed per day. 80% isn’t true. A lot of good headlines get changed that are replaced by ones that don’t conform to the rules – place names in headlines, very short, repeat the intro word for word.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 6:27 pm
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    My experience of this had the following outcome:
    1. The subbing pool was under so much pressure and being so distant from the origination process (correspondent, reporter, newsdesk interaction) that the headline would be more of a label with little relevancy to the story being told.
    2. The headline would be rewritten back at the editorial office in an effort to improve it.
    3. Untrained (in subbing and layout) reporters would often produce headlines which didn’t fit and/or were not in the paper’s style.
    4. Neither subs nor reporters would be happy having to do this and would be even less happy with the quality of the finished product.
    5. The process caused friction and led to the breakdown of team spirit among staff. There was a lot of bitterness and mistrust as a result.
    6. Local newspapers need team effort to get good products out especially when faced with the onslaught of social media.
    7. Managements have created subbing hubs to save money and to maintain production as revenues constantly decline.
    Sadly, it isn’t working and separated editorial teams have ended up being at each other’s throats. Is there any other way to keep papers coming out when the take us continually fallung?

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  • January 4, 2016 at 6:50 pm
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    A little Knowledge is a dangerous thing, or so it would seem.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 7:13 pm
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    The idea that news editors/content managers can write all the headlines in a Newsquest operation made me smile. Those of you who missed the Great Newsquest Cull of 2015 would have missed the fact a number of news editors were axed and reporters co-opted onto the newsdesks when the powers that be realised news editors actually did quite a lot of work every day. Content managers are dealing with websites, ordering page templates, briefing reporters, running news diaries, drawing up news lists, leading conferences, filling boxes on templates all day, and manning the phones for calls and complaints as the day of the newsroom manager is long gone. This is what happens when you let techies with little understanding of what goes on in a newsroom run the show because all you care about is cost cutting rather than revenue generation. Glad to be ex-Newsquest.

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  • January 4, 2016 at 7:17 pm
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    Hub Grub and To Clarify.
    I can understand you defending your position but please appreciate it’s not you and your teams who are under attack here.
    The system was flawed from the outset and it costs some centres more in fees to Newport for editing than it cost to pay the wages of their experienced, local sub editors.
    The fact that centres get told to prepare for backlogs because large numbers of Newport copy editors are sitting their preliminary law and local government exams shows their inexperience. They have never been reporters and are not qualified.
    NQ has always had young trainee reporters but now the same level of staff are subbing the copy as well in many cases.
    The 80% figure was probably from a stroppy editor and now the hub manager has thrown a hissy fit and handed work back to the centres.
    This is inevitably going to lead to job losses in Newport and or Weymouth. I hope I’m wrong.
    The ‘them and us’ scenario doesn’t help anyone. Perhaps if everyone at Newport joined the union?

    Now don’t get me started on the templates…

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  • January 5, 2016 at 12:02 am
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    The figure is nowhere near 80%. It was closer to that in the early stages but it has improved. Do some of these editors have a few more staff to deal with the extra work (if they are changing so many headlines, it suggests they do)? But I know a lot of papers don’t. The content editors are there to do headlines and that’s what they should be doing.

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  • January 5, 2016 at 9:08 am
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    Substandard – this decision in no way came from the hub. The very thought of anyone employed in the hub willing to give up headlines – the only ‘fun’ we have – is absurd.
    You are right in that it’s probably one or two editors – I can only think of one paper that changes every headline, seemingly on principle. Many of them end up as nonsense after the change – they don’t describe the story at all.
    If anyone is under the impression the hub has decided not to do headlines, scotch that now.
    Also, to counter another impression people seem to have – the graduates were never just let loose – they were put in a separate scrutiny queue for months before being able to put stories straight through – their stories were all checked by highly qualified and experienced people.
    We are now up to speed – I can’t speak for Newport, but I can for Weymouth. The graduates are now suitably jaded, cynical and sweary after a thorough drilling in how to be a Proper Sub. Many even wear cardigans.
    Simply, this is just shoving hours more work on the people who have most felt the impact of the new software and in many cases, they are already struggling to turn out a paper despite putting in 18-hour days.

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  • January 5, 2016 at 9:30 am
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    While this whole situation is farcical and the days of hubs seem numbered, I doubt the 80% stat is anywhere near accurate. It’s more likely a figure plucked from the air by a stroppy editor demanding improvements – but it’s now come back to bite everybody.
    If 80% of headlines are being rewritten anyway it’s not that big a change from the status quo for them all to be written from scratch locally. But as I said, I doubt the figure is accurate.
    However, for hub bosses to turn around and cry “We’re not dong it anymore” seems childish and extremely short-sighted and someone needs to bang some heads together.
    Newsquest has made it’s bed, now everyone has to lie in it. Either employ better subs at these hubs, train them better or accept that these are the cards you’ve been dealt and make the best of it.

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  • January 5, 2016 at 10:03 am
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    What the paper says or looks like doesn’t matter, as long as it still makes money that is the only thing that matters to Investors In People, sorry Newsquest.

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  • January 5, 2016 at 10:28 am
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    As someone who has worked as a reporter at a NQ paper and a copy editor under the Knowledge system, my opinion is that the main issue is there is a massive stigma against the system in general.
    Certainly at the start there were teething problems with how Knowledge worked and the quality of the headlines and editing done at the hubs and I was one of the reporters ripping their hair out at times at the standards sent back.
    However, I can confirm the standard has improved a lot since Knowledge was first introduced, the team and the 80 per cent figure is utter rubbish. I can also confirm the point made about the rewritten headlines often being worse than those sent by the hub, but I might be biased.
    Sadly, despite this, there are still a number of personnel at papers who cannot stand the hub, it would seem, for good reason or not and rather than embracing it, they are looking to bring it down.
    This is obviously very wishful thinking, but if those who hate the hub take their blinkers off for a minute and give it a chance and at the same time, the company continues to improve the system, it might work.
    Any chance of that? Probably not, but I’m a glass half full person, unlike a stereotypical sub editor.

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  • January 5, 2016 at 10:33 am
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    I work in the so-called “hub of horrors” in Newport and it’s anything but that. We’ve got a mix, probably half and half, of veterans from the likes of Fleet Street and the BBC and extremely talented graduates with journalism qualifications.
    A big concern is when accurate headlines which fit the box are composed in Newport and are changed for no apparent reason by staff in the district offices to headlines which don’t fit and are inaccurate (spelling mistakes, rogue apostrophes etc).
    We get the feeling that our headlines are changed just for the sake of it. For example, Newport staff write straight headlines which are changed to puns, and we write puns which are changed to straight headlines. If the districts gave us some sort of guidance as to what they’re looking for, it would be a big help. It may be that some districts change most of the headlines written in Newport but that is NOT because “80%” of the headlines are unsuitable.
    Sometimes headlines are supplied by the districts and staff in Newport are not allowed to make any changes to them. But there are occasions when these provided headlines contain errors – even not reflecting the story correctly.
    We often find that we spend a fair amount of time coming up with a headline to fit a front-page box four decks deep and five characters wide and then the district changes the layout of the page simply to accommodate a headline that goes across most of the page. We feel our time is being wasted in these instances. It’s not as though the pages are redesigned to accommodate another story or a better picture. With some weekly titles, this situation arises time and time again and you know as you’re writing something to fit that awkward shaped box that the headline that goes to press will be two decks deep and across six columns.
    Whenever there is a mistake in a Newsquest paper, it seems that the hubs at Newport and Weymouth get the blame. Only last week there was a picture caption doing the rounds online with criticism of Newport for not noticing “Up Helly Aa” appeared as “Up Helly AA”, even though that caption was not written or copy-edited at the hub.
    The hubs have had their reputation tarnished unfairly.

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  • January 5, 2016 at 11:22 am
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    It’s a ridiculous decision.
    Some of the big daily newspapers might be able to cope with the extra workload.
    However smaller dailies and the weeklies will not be so lucky as they have a small number of staff already pulling 10 to 12-hour days.
    A substantial amount of weekly titles feed at least 50% of their stories through to the hubs on deadline day. If they are writing headlines as well then papers will start missing their print slots.
    The fact that the decision was moved back two weeks just hours after being announced after a backlash by the reasonable editors in Newsquest, speaks volumes.
    The hubs will be writing headlines again by the end of February.

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  • January 5, 2016 at 11:52 am
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    Hi Hub Grub,
    I had added a clarification which didn’t make it past the moderators.
    It wasn’t the hub manager who had the hissy fit.
    I’m glad the copy editors have started wearing cardigans – an important step up.
    I also feel every sympathy for staff whose job now is reduced to a tedious factory process.
    NQ is stripping to the bone ready for a merger and the remaining staff have a ridiculous workload.
    Good luck everyone.

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  • January 5, 2016 at 5:04 pm
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    heard the story from down south about the JP paper in a newsroom of the future that printed a remembrance service spread from the previous year. Sadly for them things were not exactly the same.

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  • January 5, 2016 at 9:13 pm
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    I left, I’m glad
    My new jobs great
    And the pay’s not bad

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  • January 5, 2016 at 10:13 pm
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    Hello Corporal Clegg. Are plummeting circulations due to lower quality newspapers? As journalists surely we deal in facts?

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  • January 5, 2016 at 11:45 pm
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    I’ve just come round from a coma and it’s April 1… It’s got to be spoof! The idea that a sub can’t slap a decent headline on a story because he or she is not local is ludicrous.
    I’m all for keeping things local but this is bonkers.
    If the headlines are 80% bad, I’d be looking at the people they are recruiting. Are they passers-by dragged off the street?

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  • January 6, 2016 at 8:26 am
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    newshund … I have a page of The Yorkshire Post in front of me with a sub head of ‘hdhdhddyhdhdhhddyhdyd’ and a caption of’ CAPTION KICKER: Caption words xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxxx. Does nobody at JP care? This happens on a regular basis and readers are noticing, even if management doesn’t seem to bother. The paper is becoming a laughing stock.

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  • January 6, 2016 at 10:03 am
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    JP Cost Cut Victim – sorry to break it to you pal, but it’s the job of the regional centres to provide the captions, not the copy editors.
    Maybe if you did that, and told the regional coordinators in Newport when you’re not happy with a headline or subheads are missed, they could actually do some training and help people improve.
    Or we could just act like we’ve blown up the Death Star when all that’s happening is a load of young people in Newport and Weymouth are heading for the unemployment line.

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  • January 6, 2016 at 12:04 pm
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    Having been employed by several of the big groups, Newsquest is without doubt the most clueless and incompetent organisations I’ve worked for.

    All its strategy is short-term – quick savings with no long or even mid-term view of their effect.
    Often its really obvious, common sense stuff that backfires in utterly predictable ways, like new IT systems designed to “save time” which are actually clunky and require staff to find long-winded work-arounds for basic things that used to take seconds.

    I’ve seen my local paper – circ 12,000 – go from being known locally as “the Bible” to becoming a laughing stock in the past year because NQ decided it didn’t need an editor anymore.
    It’s has no idea what’s going in in the community (largely due to the extreme shortage of staff) errors are rife due to it being subbed 200 miles away, and since it sacked its photographer, the pictures are often blurred, too small resolution or just plain awful.

    JP made far too many cuts, but at least they always felt strategic, and they involved local editors in discussions rather than relying on self-preservationist group editors who’d sell their grannies to protect their own position.

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  • January 6, 2016 at 5:39 pm
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    The JP paper I once slaved for (office now shut) had all its reporters (good, bad, vets, kids) writing own headlines, fitting copy to templates, adding (and sometimes taking) pictures, loading stories and pictures on web, and occasionally looking for stories!

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  • January 6, 2016 at 7:06 pm
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    And another 20 jobs go at The Herald and Times in Glasgow. So who is going to do the headlines there? Will the readers just be writing and editing these papers from now on? Or will NQ sell off the prime site for retail in Glasgow city centre. I am sure a shed somewhere in Cowcaddens can fit everyone in.

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  • January 6, 2016 at 10:13 pm
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    Nice one, Corporal Clegg. Let’s drag out a seven-year old working paper from the US on this one. That’s about as current and local as some these hub-subbed titles get these days!

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  • January 7, 2016 at 12:38 pm
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    The move is surely one intended to make a future saving. Print circulations and revenues are falling. Online eyeballs are rising but I wonder if that converts into significant revenue increase? (If I placed an online ad that didn’t appear on a page with a main news story, how many people would see it? And, more significantly, how many would look at it hard enough to absorb it?) Does Newsquest publish figures showing revenues from online advertising at its various centres? If not, I wonder why? Subs’ days on regional papers have long been numbered, I fear. Glass half full? Newsquest has already gulped the first half and is thirsting after more savings.

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  • January 8, 2016 at 12:13 pm
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    The people at Newport seem to be getting the blame for problems largely out of their control.

    It is true that a large number of suitable headlines are changed. Often to headlines which do not fit the specifics set, place names etc. The subbing staff are bound by guidelines then broken by newsroom staff.

    As for the makeup of Newport, about half are experienced middle-aged hacks, from Fleet Street or the once-vaunted regionals. The rest are journalism graduates from courses like Cardiff; hardly “dragged of the street”.

    Another point should be made: the operation itself is deeply flawed. You cannot expect out-of-house staff to produce standards expected of a local Sub-Editor. It’s a harebrained idea from a company squeezing the last few pennies out of a burning boat.

    Look at Newsquest, do you see any cogent digital strategy like that at Trinity Mirror? No. Granted, the latter’s plan may not work, but at least they’re throwing the dice. Managed decline is the aim of the game.

    I suspect disgruntled Newsquest employees are scapegoating the subbing hub staff in reaction to devastating cuts. Meanwhile, Newsquest is quietly slipping through the back door, cash in sacks.

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  • January 9, 2016 at 9:35 pm
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    This decision has been postponed indefinitely.
    Hub staff allowed to write all headlines again. Professionals allowed to do their jobs. If “80pc or more” were true the hubs would have been torpedoed years ago.

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  • January 10, 2016 at 12:22 am
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    I am horrified to hear that a large number of people working in the hubs are allegedly experienced journalists. Most of the headlines that come back bear no resemblance to what the story is about. In fact, most of them are garbage, sheer garbage. That’s the reason they get changed -and the only reason they get changed.

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  • January 11, 2016 at 3:36 pm
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    The snide and uncalled-for remark about ‘allegedly experienced’ missed the key point made before it, i.e.: that this whole idea has been ditched.

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