Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Is it just the technology to blame?

Thanks to Jon Slattery for highlighting another headline gaff. Lots of those who picked up on it assumed it was the cursed Johnston Press Atex system at play again. But the Evening Times in Glasgow isn't a Johnston title at all. It belongs to Newsquest. Does that suggest that it isn't just the system but, as I said in my Press Gazette article last month, human error? I concluded that while there are, of course, different standards of equipment, technology will always just be a tool. "It doesn’t make bad journalism. Only people do that." Not everyone agreed and I had plenty of responses from JP journalists insisting the system was under-specced. They are expecting us to climb Everest in flip-flops, was the general consensus. Maybe. At first I had assumed (always a dangerous thing to do) that Newsquest in Scotland wasn't using the Atex system but it transpires it is. So maybe the technology is playing a big part in this after all. Meanwhile, over at another JP title, this time the Scarborough Evening News, there was this ...
Wherever the problem lies there needs to be a bit of human intervention until it is resolved. Back in the day, when I was an editor, we used to check the first copies off the press before the full run began. Strikes me that it wouldn't take much to have someone, not necessarily a journalist, at least checking the headlines, pictures and dateline ...surely be worth it to save credibility and stop the embarrassment.

5 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Sometimes it is easy to use the introduction of new technology as a cover for poor standards of work or an inability to cope with new demands... or as an opportunity to say 'you see? I told you the kit was a bad idea...'

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  3. When pressed for time and unable to do a detailed check of each page, the senior sub I was working with on Golf supplements for the Irish Examiner would just check headlines and captions: "Those are the buggers that will come back to bite us if we f*** up," he told me on one particularly hectic night. Wise words if you ask me.

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  4. The Scarborough Evening News once famously ran the same front page two days running, leaving the poor newsagents having to explain that "no, this is today's paper, really!"

    My scan of the SEN, by the way is at http://twitpic.com/2o1043

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  5. I don't know about the Herald, but Newsquest's south coast dailies use Atex. The subs hate it.

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