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Subs are not coming back says former daily editor

The age of the sub-editor in local newspapers is over and will not return, a former daily editor has declared.

Neil Fowler, who edited four regional titles in a 25-year career in the industry, said that the funding model of news had changed irrevocably and the “luxury” of having staff to rewrite and fact-check reporters’ stories has gone.

Instead, Neil said journalists and newsrooms needed to embrace a culture of “getting it right first time.”

He called for a set of basic skills on which all student journalists would be tested before being let loose in the newsroom, including spelling, grammar, writing to length, headline-writing and “getting the best out of dull stories.”

Neil’s comments came in an article for the latest edition of the media magazine InPublishing.

They come amid uncertainty about the survival of sub-editing as a traditional newsroom skill, with reporters increasingly being encouraged to publish directly to websites and locally-based subbing roles outsourced to production hubs.

Wrote Neil: “It’s an easy argument to make. Newspapers are poor because they’ve sacked all the subs. If only there were more subs, sitting near to the reporters, regional and local newspapers would be free of errors, life would be local, and life would be better. And sales would increase.

“No, they wouldn’t, as any rational observer of the industry appreciates.

“If we are to have a sensible view of the role of sub-editors, we must acknowledge that the funding model of news has changed. The luxury of having time and resource to rewrite and fact check every reporter’s story has gone.

“That doesn’t mean that copy should not be checked and revised when necessary, but it does mean that there needs to be a great deal more of ‘right first time, every time’.”

Neil, who is now managing director of internal communications firm Headlines, goes on to argue that the initial responsibility for this lies with editors who recruit and the universities and colleges which educate would-be journalists.

He called for all student journalists to be tested on a set of “simple rules” covering such issues as spelling, grammar, fact-checking, balance, headline-writing, writing to length and “getting to the heart of the story.”

Added Neil:  “Student journalists should be tested on all of these and if they can’t pass strenuous exams they should be allowed nowhere near any newsroom, either traditional or in the local coffee shop.

“The modern-day journalist should be right first time, every time – and should accept no excuse for failing to reach this very simple standard.”

73 comments

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  • March 27, 2014 at 7:57 am
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    Has he worked in a local newsroom recently? Reporters are expected to write dozens of stories every day. Also young reporters don’t always get it right first time – they learn on the job.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 8:13 am
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    Be intriguing to discover from veteran subs how often copy filed by the young Fowler was sent back for errors of fact and assumption, syntax and grammar.
    The idea that generating flawless content is merely about adoping a positive mindset is bizarre.
    Delightful though that the bloke who reckons the art of subbing is all-but extinct should choose to name his company ‘Headline’.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 8:16 am
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    That really is utter rubbish from someone who should know better. I used to read copy from all sorts of writers as a sub, from editors down, and they ALL made mistakes, all had blindspots, all had weaknesses. When someone read what I wrote, the same things would crop up. It might be inevitable that there will be no subs, but to think reporters writing loads of stories a day (see comment above) can write error-free copy every time is absolute tripe. He ought to be ashamed of himself.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 8:35 am
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    Oh dear….every newspaper journalist I know (including me) learned the most important parts of the craft via seasoned subs going through their copy and showing them the “gaps” in the article.
    And Neil adds: “getting the best out of dull stories.” – if the story is of no real interest, then surely the answer is don’t bore the readers by using it?

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  • March 27, 2014 at 8:36 am
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    Pretty rubbish stuff from the fella. Every reporter who writes a story thinks they have got it right first time. But it always needs a second look from someone less involved in it to spot any errors lurking or potential legals.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 8:47 am
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    Sort of right… nothing to stop reporters learning the subbing function and checking each others copy – but it will need checking. It’s also about time companies started paying proper money for the enhanced skills that are required.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 8:58 am
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    Maybe the sub role as we know it will die out, but somebody still needs to check copy, whatever format it is in. The public hate seeing bad spelling and grammar and we’ll only alienate them even more if we let more mistakes slip through – either online or in print.
    Also, how many times have we asked a colleague just to “run their eyes over something” and they’ve seen something we’ve missed?
    Team working is set to become ever more vital – not less, Neil.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 9:21 am
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    As someone who spent decades working first as a reporter then a sub, I now combine both by uploading self-subbed copy straight to a live website – ‘right first time’ as Mr Fowler might say. However, I dread to imagine what shambolic copy I might have uploaded when I was first starting out as a young reporter. Frankly, I think it is asking way too much of someone new to journalism.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 9:28 am
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    I remember hearing the ‘right first time’ mantra years ago at my company. Today the standard of copy is as bad as it has ever been.

    Neil Fowler might have a point if newsrooms were well staffed (meaning there was plenty of time to write ‘right first time’ copy) and reporters were well paid, making it an attractive job to the brightest young people. However, those conditions do not and never will exist. Plus, literacy skills among even university educated young people are clearly getting worse.

    In a strange way subbing is more vital than ever.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 9:38 am
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    “literacy skills among even university educated young people are clearly getting worse.”

    Spot on Kendo.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 9:44 am
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    Yes, I’m sad the days of subs have gone, but gone they have.

    But JP’s had none for years and the papers tick along just fine…

    I can only imagine all the other groups will follow suit in the end.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 9:47 am
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    Taking up Kendo’s point, I once worked with a young journalist who did not know the difference between the spellings of “steel” and “steal”. When I questioned him, he said: “They didn’t teach us spelling at university.” Ye Gods!! And we all know the dangers of not having someone else viewing our copy, a simple typo leading to the sentence: “The driver was not insured” instead of “The driver was not injured.” Subs were worth their weight in gold, not just for their eagle eyes but their advice, their skill and their ability to inspire. A real shame.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 9:52 am
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    In the newsroom I now work, the sub editor role is expanding to include picture editing, page design (when more than a template page is needed), feature writing, column writing, content editing for the website, commissioning articles and reviews, and organising supplements and paper sections. Our job titles may have changed, and certainly our skill set, but our primary role is still to sub the newspaper on press day.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 9:57 am
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    So spelling and grammar should be “basic skills” for a would-be journalist? Indeed they should!
    The problem is that schools these days are churning out people whose basic grasp of those matters is tenuous at best..
    I know of one journalism training centre where they are already considering the introduction of lectures on spelling and grammar.
    Takes me back to the days when my first editor would charge around the newsroom, yelling “syntax, syntax.” Sadly, many of today’s students think the word refers to some sort of levy on bad behaviour!

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  • March 27, 2014 at 9:58 am
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    Shamless drivel… Young or old, experienced or not, writers make mistakes. So do subs, but these claims really REALLY suck…

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  • March 27, 2014 at 10:16 am
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    Doesn’t it just show? I have noted appalling errors in newspapers, and it is not limited to the regional press. Complete tracts of text are sometimes pasted and re-pasted, appearing twice in one feature, which must make professional journalists cringe when they spot it. It certainly made me wince when it was done to a feature I had written, as I feared the readers would think it was my error.

    In my experience, as a freelance feature writer for the past sixteen years, and a columnist for over four, experienced sub-editors are not only nice to have, but a key part of any serious publication. In addition to picking up the errors of journalists, they often devise really pithy and clever headlines, drawing the reader into the paper. It is short-sighted to regard them as expendable.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 10:28 am
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    In 40-plus years in journalism, I was always brought up to believe that “two pairs of eyes are better than one”. Despite all the pontifications of people like Mr Fowler, I don’t think things will suddenly change.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 10:30 am
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    Neil has always been a lovable comedian … are you sure he’s not taking the proverbial?

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  • March 27, 2014 at 10:35 am
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    “The modern-day journalist should be right first time, every time – and should accept no excuse for failing to reach this very simple standard.”

    You’d think that someone who’d edited four regional titles would have the experience – both of journalists and of human beings in general – to know this is never, never going to happen. It’s like the Government saying ‘we expect people to pass a strenuous driving test and then never, ever crash their cars’.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 10:52 am
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    Absolutely agree that subs are a vital part of the process — hence the BBC has a rigorous subbing operation for its online services. I’ve had personal experience of this and, before the anti-Beeb mob start screaming that it’s rubbish, let me point out that many of those involved in the operation are former newspaper subs, with a lot of experience.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 11:03 am
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    Currently subbing still goes on. It’s done by the news ed or the ed, who has quite enough else to do and who may or may not have been trained as a sub but at whose desk the buck stops. They may have got rid of the subs but the need is still there, and always will be.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 11:08 am
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    Yes, Mr Fowler…. “the funding model of news has changed’.

    And when they have to spend the funds on libel actions or to defend contempt of court proceedings, then they’ll realise what they’re missing and how much it’ll cost them.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 11:17 am
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    In common with our industry’s glorious senior managers, Neil Fowler casually refers to journalists working in their “local coffee shop”. Presumably meaning those reporters who’ve had their offices sold off. Like other people who are out of touch with the basics of our trade, I suspect Neil hasn’t thought about the practicalities, problems and expenses that working in a coffee shop would involve.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 11:20 am
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    I agree with almost every word written on this vexed question so far. Struth Neil, you just don’t get it! Reporters improve with experience and there’s not a training course in the country that can offer that as a learning outcome. I’ve been a reporter and the mentoring I received from the subs was invaluable. Years later when I turned sub myself one of the joys of the job – and there were many – was mentoring new reporting staff. That’s how it worked then and that’s how it works now – it’s not a luxury, it’s essential.
    No wonder the national press looks down on its regional relations with derision, this sort of defeatism will be the death knell of a local press and democracy will be the poorer for it.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 11:29 am
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    Neil’s argument relies on the notion that there was a time when reporters weren’t much bothered about getting it ‘right first time’.

    This, of course, is nonsense. It has always been the goal but, as has already been pointed out, it’s rarely that straight-forward.

    As for his oh-so radical suggestion that only those with an understanding of grammar and ability to spell should be considered for a career in the newsroom, are we being asked to believe there was a time when these weren’t essential prerequisites?!

    The issue, as I see it, is that the big local newspaper groups are run by bean counters with little or no appreciation of the written word, less still good journalism – were this not the case then, frankly, they’d be embarrassed by some of the stuff put out by their titles – and they have no appreciation of what a good sub can bring to the table.

    From where I’m looking, it’s not so much a case of ‘right first time’ as ‘never mind the quality, feel the width’!

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  • March 27, 2014 at 11:44 am
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    I worked on an evening paper where an Oxbridge-educated reporter covering a court case had the defendant pleading guilty when in fact he pleaded not guilty and got off. The irate man presented himself at the front desk a few hours later demanding a grovelling apology (which he got). Tasked with this the reporter replied ”’Well the subs should have spotted it.” He didn’t last long.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 11:49 am
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    So he is happy for his junior PR staff to get it ‘right first time’ when sending out a press release for his paying clients? If I was a client at his PR company I would be a bit worried if his staff were left to get it ‘right first time’!!!

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  • March 27, 2014 at 12:12 pm
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    Walt D … not all JP titles are doing as well as you claim. The Yorkshire Post has been running a house ad using ‘DONT’ not ‘don’t’. How this has not been corrected is incredible. Pics of said ad have even been tweeted! An Evening Post story stated that Vinnie Jones had played ‘less than 60 games’ not fewer than. Standards of English are falling, fact. No matter how many qualifications pupils leave school with, it is not an indication that they can spell or use an apostrophe. When a person chooses journalism as a career though, I would have thought that excelling in English would be as key as a designer being artistic.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 12:15 pm
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    The trouble with the “get it right first time” principle is that it assumes reporters haven’t always aimed to produce clean, accurate, legally-sound copy. The fact is you’re never going to eradicate mistakes, particularly from the work of journalists who are new to the job or dealing with increasingly ludicrous workloads.
    It would also be helpful to have a concrete definition of a sub. On the weekly I worked for it wasn’t just someone to polish copy and write headlines. They designed pages, did the news-editing, pitched in with writing, compiled letters and society pages and much, much more. Presumably Mr Fowler believes reporters should take on these duties as well?

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  • March 27, 2014 at 12:22 pm
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    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
    Funniest thing I’ve read all week. Next we’ll be expecting user generated content to be literate.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 1:17 pm
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    I worked with Neil in Newcastle.. he was always good for a laugh….

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  • March 27, 2014 at 1:21 pm
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    Better idea on this subject.. get rid of the reporters, keep the subs…

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  • March 27, 2014 at 1:37 pm
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    Agree wholeheartedly with oldhack. I was teaching trainee journalists in uni 10 years ago and most didn’t know the difference between a noun and a proper noun. Many of my lectures, lessons and workshops included sessions on grammar, syntax and basic spelling – there/their, where/were. Students told me they weren’t taught this in school and that spellings were not corrected in college, so it’s no wonder they struggle in the newsroom. I was once challenged by the head of English in a high school because I didn’t cap up the word history in the middle of a sentence.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 1:39 pm
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    Good to see my article has provoked a debate. Hope every one has had the chance to read it in full. The link is below if you missed it. You will then get the full picture.

    The world’s changed and, even if it hadn’t, what is wrong with striving to be completely right? As I said in the original piece, we expect it in other businesses, so why not in ours? I wouldn’t fancy having my car serviced by an engineer who was happy with being merely nearly right.

    I’ve not said that copy should never be checked – it’s just that the backstop role of the sub has to change.

    http://www.inpublishing.co.uk/kb/articles/when_nearly_right_is_totally_wrong__and_why_the_great_subbing_debate_is_a_huge_red_herring_1352.aspx

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  • March 27, 2014 at 2:07 pm
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    Follow Neil’s link in the above post and you will see an apology for a mistake inserted in the copy by the person who subbed it. He doesn’t mention whether he altered any mistakes in the original copy – the point is that he checked it.
    Look carefully at about half the posts above and you will find (albeit minor) mistakes because they have not been subbed, only moderated.
    Even the best writers make mistakes, more so less experienced ones under pressure to produce.
    Can we afford a world without subs? Notwithstanding a huge libel action, probably yes. Would we pay for a world of greengrocers’ apostrophes and worse? I know I wouldn’t – my blood pressure wouldn’t cope.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 2:28 pm
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    The word ‘so’ is a conjunction so the preceding comma is superfluous.
    Second par, second sentence.

    And in your car-service analogy, there’s no way that I would want my car serviced by an apprentice without one senior guy showing him the ropes and another one checking it had been done right afterwards.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 3:11 pm
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    To go further with the car analogy Neil:

    “I wouldn’t fancy having my car serviced by an engineer who was happy with being merely nearly right.”

    Surely the car should be perfect first time and not need servicing at all, surely the car manufacturer should get it right first time!

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  • March 27, 2014 at 3:29 pm
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    I think I spent my journalistic career “striving to be completely right” and I’m sure it is the same for everyone else in the profession. The fact is, few people – myself included – are perfect, although some may think they are. Anyone who thinks errors can be totally eradicated is, quite frankly, living in cloud cuckoo land.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 3:55 pm
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    I’d love to live in this world where my sub-editor job involved a simple read-through of copy before coming up with a jaunty headline then packing myself off to the pub in time for the 2.15 race at York. A quick recap of my day yesterday, a not untypical day: Designing a 20-page newspaper, editing copy for those pages, liaising with photographer to ensure we got a picture of a woman in a big court case, rewriting copy – including a report on a shooting by police officers which outright stated in the copy that the person shot by police had been caught redhanded in the middle of a burglary (no need for a trial, I guess), advising reporters on the best angle for a story, talking to several out-of-house contributors, editing submitted copy from readers for a clubs page, planning an upcoming supplement, plus assorted technical queries and working with our web designer to give him anything he needed for live stories. To say there’s rarely a minute spare is no exaggeration, and none of it is make-up.

    Also worth noting is the increased necessity to watch out for autocorrect errors, such as the one my device tried to insert in the paragraph above substituting redheaded for redhanded. Being caught redheaded at the scene of a crime is a regular occurrence for a carrot top like me!

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  • March 27, 2014 at 3:56 pm
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    When I worked as a sub on a regional daily, one of the worst for making mistakes was the editor. He bashed out the leader in double quick time, based on a quick read of the story. On more than one occasion he got the leader completely wrong! Also, if there was a confusible word it was almost guaranteed that the editor would fall in to the trap. He is still in his post.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 5:01 pm
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    Neil Fowler said some silly things and should know better as he’s had years of experience.
    Most of us realised long ago that subs are Mother’s Little Helpers and God’s Litle Angels…..as long as they’ve had the right longish experience, training and are not ill-treated and overworked. Most days they see awful things and go on to correct blunders. Be gentle with them…

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  • March 27, 2014 at 5:18 pm
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    I have read and digested Mr Fowler’s words and, d’you know, he’s spot-on! I resigned today from my subbing job – disgusted with myself for having had the temerity to do it for so long – and am investigating new pathways in the remunerative activity arena, most of them involving buckets, mops, rubber gloves, bleach, long- handled brushes, loo rolls, etc. Thank you, Mr Fowler, you bacon of hope. (Shurely shome mishtake? Sub: – No one cares! Ed)

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  • March 27, 2014 at 6:04 pm
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    It is possible that I only come to the site now to read the latest bizarre pronouncements (like the one above); mismanagement announcements (usually JP, but the others give them a run for their money); or disasters like the Reading Chronicle served up last week.
    Oh, and who’s dead. So there’s always plenty to click on. Bit sad really.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 6:58 pm
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    I have been buying newspapers since the 1960s. I work in and around newspapers now as a self employed person.

    I would like to say that the standard of local papers has deteriorated quite badly. I have seen awful errors. Not long ago in a paper I saw a headline ‘Draught plans thrown out by Council’. Awful, awful, awful.
    Who would plan a draught? I have also started to see pairs of words joined up such as ‘anymore’ instead of ‘any more’. We do not say
    ‘We do not see mammoths anymore in the countryside’

    I know trainee journalists now who are paying for their own training and are left to produce whole sections of newspapers on their own.

    Two more words come to mind – ‘slave’ and ‘labour’

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  • March 27, 2014 at 7:47 pm
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    My two penn’orth again, sorry. With reference to “other professions” – Do heart surgeons carry out operations without having a team around? Do pilots fly passenger jets solo? Would Brian Clough have achieved all his success without Peter Taylor by his side? Can Yaya Toure win matches on his own for Man City? The real answer to all the above is no, because we all sometimes need somebody else to oversee our work or we would just end up like the not-so-great dictators of our times. And look what happened to all of them…

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  • March 27, 2014 at 7:53 pm
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    “That doesn’t mean that copy should not be checked and revised when necessary, but it does mean that there needs to be a great deal more of ‘right first time, every time’.”

    Erm ‘right first time, every time’? That means precisely that copy should not be checked and revised – ever. If you can’t make yourself clearly understood in writing, you’re probably not the best person to be making this argument.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 8:43 pm
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    Just to lighten the mood a little….
    I remember how, while working on a regional daily many moons ago, I answered a late-night telephone call from one of the subs, raising a query on my story about Sherwood Forest,
    He asked: “Who is this guy Major Oak you mention in your story?”
    Had he bothered to read the whole story before interrupting my social life he would have seen a reference to the huge oak tree currently undergoing repairs.
    Still, at least he checked. To be fair, he was from either South Africa or New Zealand, so may not have been aware of Sherwood and its Robin Hood connections!

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  • March 27, 2014 at 9:11 pm
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    My local daily has just made its subs redundant and centralised its subbing operation. The paper is now riddled with mistakes not spotted by “wet behind the ears” copy editors working hundreds of miles away. It looks absolutely awful. What a waste.

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  • March 27, 2014 at 10:19 pm
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    One question: what is an internal communications firm? And a supplementary: do you, Mr Fowler, honestly believe in what you have said? Honestly, in the dark watches of the night? How dare you insult the people who have given you a living and contributed to your pension. Provoking a debate? As an earlier poster said, you just don’t get it.

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  • March 28, 2014 at 6:02 am
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    The age of the ‘Neil Fowler’ is over, and is never coming back.

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  • March 28, 2014 at 8:12 am
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    Blimey, get with the times, Neil. At my place they axed subs nearly four years ago and we’ve had a ‘right first time’ policy ever since. His warnings are old news.

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  • March 28, 2014 at 9:37 am
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    Mr know all might be unaware that on most local papers hacks also layout their stories, write headings, take pictures, put them in the picture system, and so on. No wonder the style and standard of writing on weeklies is embarrassing. Have a close look at your own. If you are over 50 you might weep!
    The problem is the people in charge of newsrooms have never been trained to write properly, so rubbish slips through. even basics like the Government ARE instead of IS are seen, and heard on BBC so it is not just papers.

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  • March 28, 2014 at 10:35 am
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    “Getting it right in the first place” if this has been so easy, there would have been not subs!

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  • March 28, 2014 at 1:57 pm
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    So the debate rages on. This was being discussed in the newsroom, what, 15 years ago? Moving fast and keeping up with the times is hardly a mantra newspaper publishers live by.

    A few wry smiles came over my face when reading a lot of the comments. Anyone would think that subs are saints.

    “Every newspaper journalist learned the most important parts of the craft via seasoned subs going through their copy and showing them the “gaps” in the article.”? What an absolute pile of tosh. Good strong news editors did this, not subs.

    For years now, subs – on regional titles – have flowed copy into boxes, written headlines that often don’t reflect the copy and moaned their way through their 9 to 5 job. I always saw reporters going beyond their hours; never subs though.

    Can reporters write perfect stories first time, every time? No, of course they can’t – but strong newsdesks should be working with them to ensure that is exactly what they’re striving for. It shouldn’t be a third round of checks that pick up this work.

    Commenters on here would love to return to the 1990s. Sorry, we’ve moved on.

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  • March 28, 2014 at 3:28 pm
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    It is interesting to be derided in the way that I have been by some above through merely asking for young journalists to be trained to a higher standard and for more experienced scribes to take on the personal responsibility of getting facts right. Strange old world.

    And the irony is that in making their points many correspondents above add weight to my arguments. So thank you to them.

    Students paying £27k for a three-year journalism degree course have every right to expect to receive the best possible training, don’t they? As do those paying £9k for a one-year post-grad diploma.

    I’m not devaluing the role of the sub, just saying that looking back to so-called good old days is a pointless exercise. The economic reality of all news organisations supports that. The business model has changed.

    And the debate is much wider than what subs do or don’t do.

    The media industry as a whole has for too long been willing to accept nearly right as an acceptable standard. That is no longer good enough.

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  • March 28, 2014 at 3:39 pm
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    “Can reporters write perfect stories first time, every time? No, of course they can’t – but strong newsdesks should be working with them to ensure that is exactly what they’re striving for. It shouldn’t be a third round of checks that pick up this work. Commenters on here would love to return to the 1990s. Sorry, we’ve moved on.”

    As you well know, newsdesks are overworked and don’t have the time to do this. Yes, the industry has indeed moved on. Not forward though.

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  • March 28, 2014 at 7:02 pm
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    Students paying £27k for a three year journalism degree course?
    What a crazy world!
    The sooner regional journalism implodes the better it will be for everyone.
    Then we can go back to as it was in the heyday of evenings and weeklies with school-leavers being taken on as reporters and starting to learn the craft by first making a decent cup of tea.

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  • March 28, 2014 at 7:04 pm
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    Don’t know where Richard, Essex, works, but what he describes is alien to me.

    Before joining the nationals, I was chief sub, group chief sub, production editor etc of many weekly and evening newspapers. Can’t say I recall any newsdesk having too much time to show reporters where they’re going wrong.

    We’ve all seen weeklies and evenings where subs have little input. The result is clear for all to see. Hardly surprising sales are in decline.

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  • March 29, 2014 at 6:44 am
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    My local paper is littered with errors, full of non stories and very poorly written. I just don’t bother buying it anymore, much like many others in my town.

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  • March 29, 2014 at 9:37 am
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    Well, the original article is rubbish, obviously, but the comments are great. So thank you Neil Fowler for that at least.

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  • March 29, 2014 at 9:39 am
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    Oops, I didn’t mean the article. I meant Fowler’s comments contained therein. A sub would have spotted that.

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  • March 29, 2014 at 1:22 pm
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    Re: ‘observer’.

    Can I lighten this by observing that the headline ‘Draught plans thrown out by Council’ could have caused a little wry amusement had it said (albeit still with the incorrect spelling). ‘Draught plans [blown] out by Council’.

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  • March 29, 2014 at 5:46 pm
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    The crunch point highlighted here by all the comments is that umpteen quite experienced subs have made the same point again Neil. Are most or all of them wrong? Sadly subbing standards in 2014 are a bit different than wot they used to be!

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  • March 30, 2014 at 9:08 am
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    I, too, found what Richard, Essex, said to be totally alien.

    Over the last 30 years on daily papers I’ve seen plenty of subs sit down with young reporters, go through their copy and explain where they’re going wrong.

    I’ve yet to see a news exec do so.

    I started in daily newspapers fresh out of school, aged 18. I had no journalism training and learned on the job.

    Generous subs and fellow reporters regularly assisted me in the early days. I needed it, I was clueless.

    I was assisted by a news exec was in my first week and it went like this:

    News editor, dropping a story on my desk: You spelled a word wrong in this copy.

    Me (mortified): Which word was it?

    News editor (walking away): Find it.

    (It took me 30 minutes but I finally found it. I’d spelled intellect wrong, if anyone’s interested.)

    The lesson learned was actually a good one because from then I put a major focus on spelling and accurate copy. But that was the one time I learned anything about the newspaper game from a news exec.

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  • March 30, 2014 at 11:07 pm
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    This just in from the BBC News website:

    “Newsweek declared in a statement that it stood “strongly behind” the story, whose reporting, it said, “was conducted under the same high editorial and ethical standards that have guided Newsweek for more than 80 years.”

    Whose?!

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  • March 31, 2014 at 9:18 am
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    Spawporth, but did that lesson help to sell any more newspapers?

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  • March 31, 2014 at 10:54 am
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    Oliver, did it ever. I’m proud to say we ran out of newsprint.

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  • March 31, 2014 at 7:56 pm
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    Re oliver, nottingham. Did that lesson help sell any more newspapers? Maybe not. But if you have dozens of spelling mistakes in a newspaper, bad punctuation, bad grammar, non-stories, poor layout, badly cropped pix (the list goes on) you’ll lose sales quicker than you can say ‘Oliver, Nottingham’

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