Saturday, 21 September 2013

A breakdown of a sub-editor's day

I have been training subs for the Daily Mail this week - so this piece on what subs actually do, by Andy Bodle in The Guardian, was timely as well as being a good read. As he says, it's a good excuse to run some funny cock-ups. I gave my trainees a detailed job description for subs but have never thought about dividing the average day into percentages before. Andy reckons this is how he spends his time at the newspaper coalface:

Cutting copy 40%
Rewriting 25%
Headlines, captions, standfirsts etc 14%
Punctuation 3%
Fact checking 3%
Spell checking 2%
Grammar checking 2%
Style 2%
Removing inconsistencies and tautologies 2%
Styling the text 2%
Legals 1%
Converting measurements, temperatures etc 1%
Making tenses consistent 1%
Removing cliches 1%
Bad line breaks, widows etc 1%

Difficult to argue with that. Of course Andy is talking about subbing on a national newspaper. On a regional the subs also take responsibility for the page layout, page-finishing, proof-reading and, in many cases, the web. It's more than 20 years since I have chief-subbed a paper so I am ill equipped to say how regional or local paper subs divide their time. But if anyone sitting in a hub or on a local subs desk fancies breaking down their day, let me know. If you can find the time of course.

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