Thursday, July 3, 2008

A View From Australia

I have to say that the idea that we'll write something and then stand back and wait for readers to correct us has always struck me as strange and a bit arrogant. There are indeed people who have nothing else to do than read blogs and comment on them but are they your regular readers? If you're writing a story about a murder in town, do you just want to throw whatever you think happened onto the blog and wait for people to fix it? Or do you want to tell them what you know? Because, you know, you're the reporter.

Crikey seems to have a good handle on the matter.
Save the sub-editor, dying species!
Jonathan Este writes:
There has been much talk among various eminences grises of the newspaper business that the age of the sub-editor will shortly draw to a close, as cash-strapped mastheads decide they can do without a table full of grumpy pedants asking each other how to spell "by-election" and choking back theatrical guffaws as they read op-ed pieces out loud to each other.

Fairfax Media is laying off subs and looks set to follow the trail blazed in New Zealand by APN News and Media, centralising its sub-editing work to "centres of expertise".

This follows an announcement by London’s City AM that the business free sheet would axe eight staff, including six sub-editors, in order to streamline their operation.

This prompted US internet evangelist Jeff Jarvis to suggest in his blog, BuzzMachine, under the headline: "Retiring the green eye shade", that the blog would be the ideal model: "When I mess up, you tell me. And because this blog is more of a process -- a work in progress -- than a product -- the world neatly packed into a box with a bow on top, as newspapers like to think of themselves -- that works well."

If ever a line of copy needed a sub-editor to turn it into plain English, that was it.

And the "it’s never wrong for long" model doesn’t work well for newspapers -- and is even less likely to work as the pressure increases for reporters to file web updates to their stories every 10 minutes.

Those of us who have spent a little time in production are already thrilling to the frequency of errors creeping in as subs’ benches, straining under the combined weight of the staff freeze and extra, internet-related duties, are letting through some memorable horrors.

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