Digital Journalism: Sub-Editing for Online.

As publications sought after accuracy, sub editing is a big part of journalism. This session consisted of looking in to the importance of sub editing and why as journalists it is not only ideal but essential for us to practice sub editing.

What is Sub-Editing:

A Sub-Editor goes through written copy to make sure that it’s ready to be published.

This used to be a separate job, but in online contexts journalists are now likely to do their own “subbing” before publishing a post.

What it does:

* Imposes quality control
* Meets production requirements
* Sells the story

* Imposes quality control

Accuracy – dates, names, locations, numbers etc.
Grammar and syntax
Removes typos
House style
Copy is tight and well written

* Meets production requirements
Right length for the space allocated
All elements present (headline, strap, images etc.)
Meets the original brief

* Sells the story
Uses “inverted pyramid” structure
Best use of headlines and strap
Ensuring eye-catching images are above the fold
Optimise copy for search engines (SEO)

How To Sub:

First read:

* Read like a reader. Make sure everything scans and sounds right. Read aloud if it helps.

* Is the story any good? Could you make it better?

* Don’t change anything… yet.

Second read:

* Check the facts – look up dates, statistics, names and references.

* Correct spelling, grammar and typos.

Third read:

* Correct the structure. Apply the inverted pyramid if necessary.
* Tighten the headline and strap
* Break paragraphs down to one idea per paragraph.

Fourth read:

* Tighten the copy
* Remove extraneous adjectives, phrases and words
* Use a mix of short and long sentences
* Make the copy fit – if the target is 250 words, make it 250 words long

Fifth read

* Do a final check through before publishing


We were then given the task of sub-editing an article using the guidelines given above. We had to correct any factual date, spelling and grammer using the inverted pyramid structure and cut it down to 250 words. Below is what I corrected:

The Stone Roses to Reform for UK Comeback Tour.

Cult band The Stone Roses, who grew out of the ‘Madchester Movement’, are reportedly re-forming to play a comeback tour.

Reports suggests the band will perform with 21 of the concerts being staged on this side of the Pacific. The news comes only months after the bands front man Ian Browne insisted that there could never be a reunion, stating “No chance,” he said. “Not in the next three lifetimes.”

If the comeback tour goes ahead, it will coincide with the release of the 20th anniversary edition of the band debut album, “The Second Coming.” According to the Daily Mirror, Browne changed his mind following the overtures from guitarist John Squire.

A source has said “Its taken a lot of time and effort to get Ian to agree but he’s really up for it.”

“But Ian has forged a really successful solo career and wasn’t very receptive to their plans. Its taken a while but he’s finally come around to the notion.”

The band released their second and final album, “Second Coming”, in 1994. However, it was their debut that won the most accolades.

Overall, I found this tutorial session helpful as it reminded me of how crucial it is to sub-edit as a journalist. Not only does it prove that a journalist can write successfully with no mistakes, but it also shows the professional work ethic that they take ownership of. Especially as in this industry it is essential for a journalist to have this trait, as the professional world makes little room for mistakes.


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