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Feb 15, 2009

Sub-Editors Can Go! Greenslade.

Roy Greenslade is arguing that many, probably most, sub-editors are no longer n

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Roy Greenslade is arguing that many, probably most, sub-editors are no longer needed. I disagree. Seems to me that in all the new media experiments (wikipedia, for example), the role of editor/sub-editor subtly reinvents itself, no matter what you call it. He is right that big changes in thinking are needed, but I think we still need subs.

Certainly I wish I had one on this blog, to save me from the typos, if nothing else.

UPDATE: Greenslade has written another post on this issue, responding to furious critics.

Margaret Simons —

Margaret Simons

Journalist, author and director of the Centre for Advanced Journalism

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9 thoughts on “Sub-Editors Can Go! Greenslade.

  1. Volunteer Blog-Sub

    Margaret Simons asks to be blog-subbed.

    ORIGINAL: “In this case Tim, kindly telling me about the typos before too many people notice! I was never a good proofreader of my own work, and writing and posting fast, as a news blog demands, makes the problem worse. Any volunteer subs: you can embarrass me by telling me about the typos in comments (which I may well deserve), or tell me privately on Margaret@MargaretSimons.com.au.


    “In this case, Tim, it is to kindly tell me about my typographical errors before too many people notice! I have never been a good proof-reader of my own work. Writing and posting fast, as a news blog demands, makes the problem worse. If volunteer sub-editors wish to embarrass me, they can highlight my errors by submitting comments to my blog. I may well deserve it. Alternatively, they can email my private address at Margaret@MargaretSimons.com.au

  2. Jonathan Este

    Roy is playing both sides of the fence a little here, Margaret. he’s saying he sees a vast amount of value in what sub-editors do, but argues that in times of financial constraint what matters is the reporting, rather than the editing. He’s flying a little in the face of his own organisation (Guardian News & Media) here, as they would argue these days that “context” rather than “content” is king and journalists’ main task is to “curate” as much as “create” (in other words, preside over the way a news or comment piece/idea/set of pictures, video, graphics etc., is presented online to attract and nurture an audience). Presumably a good sub-editor would be trained to curate as well as anyone.
    Where this leaves the gumshoing that provides the hard-to-get facts is not yet clear. And one of the commenters on Roy’s Guardian post (or is it Roy?) notes that perhaps the time spent carefully combing one’s copy might be better spent working the phone or pounding the pavement to get that last killer fact or quote.
    Personally, I persist in thinking that the quality of the news experience will be key – so, not just good stories (the reporters’ role) but well-designed websites and elegant, readable language (step forward the subs). Some reporters (oh, alright then, many reporters) can do elegant and accurate, but in my experience some cannot and rely on being edited to save them from embarrassment or, worse, litigation.
    Its down to the cash-strapped mastheads to work out the right mix that won’t compromise either task. Not an easy judgement, I suspect.

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