Monday, July 14, 2008


Even more of what subbing is about


It's Budget day. You've been given the personal finance spread to lay out and sub. You’ve been told to expect an overlong wrap-up within half an hour of the Chancellor sitting down, a couple of case histories from families who can no longer pay their mortgages, a graphic littered with beer glasses, monopoly houses and palm trees and an analysis from the IFA who writes the Mr Pursestrings column.

The wrap, when it arrives 20 minutes late, is way, way too long; loads of reaction quotes that dropped off the splash now have to find a home with you and you're told you may have to accommodate a turn so leave space for a single-column to fill.

Any problems? Well, one or two stats in the graphic conflict with those in the text, the name of the single mum in the case history is spelt two ways and the intro ends with .... for the first time since records began in ???? (subs please check).

Oh, and with all the finance subs deployed elsewhere, you've been given a couple of slash-and-burn boys from the sports desk who cut from the end whatever.

Ten minutes before deadline, the analysis comes through. It more or less fits but the Budget Byron’s poetic prose is so ambiguous you don’t know where to start on the headline. Is he being sarcastic when he says the vehicle excise hike will help the environment by taxing us off the road?

You jot down a couple of queries and ring the City desk. He’s not there, so you nip round the corner and find him, on deadline, all white teeth and Beaujolais cheeks in the glass box, vodcasting his stripey red braces off.


Point made. Point ends.

6 comments:

Paul said...

A wonderful trio of posts - thanks, Richard. I'll be pointing my students at these.

roy said...

This is why subbing is an art. And hopefully not a dying one.

Fiona said...

Oh Richard, what unhappy memories your posts are triggering. Thank gawd, I'm in mags and online now. My first time on a daily was a real shock to the system: http://tinyurl.com/69voze

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Anonymous said...

I would just like to take some time out thank the active members for doing what you do and making the community what it is im a long time reader and first time poster so i just wanted to say thanks.