Friday, 19 June 2009

Why I love subs

Since I began in this industry (before the internet and before mobile phones were affordable) newspaper companies have been trying to remove subs.
An extra layer of cost in a department that most executives already see as an unjustifiably expensive outlay. After all who cares if the news part of the newspaper is worth reading, right?
So far they have mostly failed.
Some idiotic fools have tried letting reporters write straight on to the page. Madness. Have you ever tried to sub your own work? I try to sub the dribble I write (honestly) and I still leave in major typos, badly constructed sentences and overwritten chod.
Plus, have you ever met a reporter who responds well to criticism. Every word most hacks write is worthy of an award in their eyes, so how are they supposed to be critical of it?
This is why I love subs. A good sub can humble the greatest news hack or editor. Many times has a sub comes up to me with copy I have supposedly, edited and passed on to a page, and asked a question so bleeding obvious I turn red.
I always blame it on the volume of copy I read. But in reality it's because I have read the intro, made sure it has an end and banged it on a page cos it's going in the back of the book and I can't be arsed.
I vow to myself to change my ways but this episode happens on a weekly basis.
A fresh pair of eyes on a story is a wonderful thing but when that fresh pair of eyes belongs to a pedantic, fussy, vindicative sub it is a godsend.

The Lord giveth...................

................and the utter bastards taketh away.
I have been unseasonably jolly and upbeat in the last week. Mainly due to management buoying our spirits with uplifting news about 'investment' and 'new troops'. I have to admit I was fooled. I honestly thought they were going to start creating a new future for us downtrodden proles.
But, fuck me, if I wasn't wrong.
Without going into too much detail, instead of moving the products forwards they are taking a massive retrograde step which involves, among others, a drastic loss of the only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning - editorial space.
It is, they say, short term but I can't help feeling that these evil weasels and purveyors of false hope and mistruth are lying out of their puckered arses.
I can't help but think that once the bean counters see the revenues they are making from these 'news-lite' editions they will never go back.
With less edit space we can then look forward to a need for less reporters and subsequently less subs. Fuck it we could even drop a snapper or two.....why not combine a couple of desks and cut out a couple of bosses.
Look at all the lovely profits rolling in.
I could understand this approach - the redundancies, the cuts in pages and distribution and promotion if we were losing money.
Funny thing is we ain't. We just ain't making as much profit as last year and that really sucks balls.
It is funny how the very people bleating about the demise of this beautiful and valuable industry are the same ones destroying it with their short-sighted, profit-grabbing, greedy bullshit.
Only one good thing has come of this.
I'm feeling mean again.

Thursday, 18 June 2009


My best reporter told me he was leaving today. He is psychologically flawed in the extreme but, damn, he is a great reporter. Give him a tip off and a brief and within deadline comes back a perfectly written tale. He makes his own contacts, goes to meetings on his own volition and has a real understanding of what I need when the shite inevitably hits the fan.
I have to admit a sense of sadness, but he has outgrown our paper and needs new challenges. I wish him the very best.
But with his departure comes a sense of new adventure. I get to replace him with a fresh soul.
It may be an internal appointment within our very own news hub or from our vast media organisation but undoubtedly I will get a large number of candidates when we advertise.
I favour the internal choice. Firstly they will now what they are doing but more importantly they will already have been witness to my rage.
I am excited by an external candidate, however. New blood on our desk. New lives, new friends, new experiences. More important a sense of hope in our industry which has been blighted by so many cuts.
Just a few months ago thinking of replacing a departing colleague was unheard of, now it is a reality (not that they have much choice seeing how tight things are here).
I, personally, can't wait to see what happens.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Or so they say! I was becoming a bit mental with the blog so I took some time off to calm down and take stock.
Things are looking up a little at work. No more redundancies lately and we are being told that staff will be replaced if they leave now. Needless to say we are massively overstretched at moment and just about getting a paper worth reading out each week.
No new resources clearly so its nose to the grindstone and try and get out as good a paper as we can.
With the recession over we now wait to see if editorial reinvestment is to come so we can start doing our jobs properly again!