Monday, November 12, 2007

The rights and wrongs of David Montgomery

David Montgomery is right to criticise pay on regional newspapers. I told my first editor I wanted to learn the trade and was bollocked for using a blue collar word. He left me in no doubt, it was a profession.

That's as maybe but, 30 years on, it's hard to justify paying a daily paper reporter who exposes a paedophile ring in Newcastle or a columnist in Manchester who changes the way a Bill on disability is drafted thousands of pounds less than a graduate who uploads video to a national website.

But he's delusional if he thinks you can dispense with subs and maintain any sort of professional credibilty at the same time.

He's come in for some criticism from subs who, rightly, shudder at the thought of some of the text-speak masquerading as copy going straight into print. But, to be fair, I think he was talking about new, digital platforms.

If so, and he really thinks all subs do is "check things that don't need to be checked", he's completely misunderstood the way stories are presented - and absorbed - online.

Never mind the words, good Web subbing - chunking, linking, classifying, teasing, updating, editing for SEO - will give "content" the "context" it needs to justify publishing in a free-to-air medium struggling to pay for itself.

And no matter hard you try - and all of the big boys are really trying - I've yet to find software to do that.

What surprises me most though is that the Monty I knew spent as brief a time he as could actually writing anything. His ambition was to get into the editors chair as fast as possible - and he chose the fastest route. Subbing.

1 comment:

Matt Wardman said...

If the national press is as riddled with errors as it is now WITH subeditors - how bad will it be if they are abolished?