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Links for the Weekend Ahead

Because, let’s face it, there’s no way you should be reading this on a Friday evening. 🙂

And that’s my work PC browser tabs emptied. Time for home, and a long weekend…

A CMS wish list

JD.jpgSo I'm the first up to write a guest post this week; I'd better introduce myself.

I'm James Clark, a colleague of Adam's, and despite what my job title ('assistant web editor') may lead you to believe, I work on both print and web.

You may have seen me commenting here on One Man and His Blog under the name 'JD', which is also the name I use on my own blog, The Engine Room.

Being a production bod with a background in subbing I'm involved with all the stages that a news story or a feature (for example) goes through between it being written and it being published. And in the case of the web, often after it is published too.

To do that I use a heap of systems: authoring tools, layout tools, a content management system, an 'editorial administration system', and our new web platform (which has its own CMS functionality). Not all of them communicate perfectly with each other, and not all of them were designed with the web in mind.

I'm not a techie, but I've been thinking for a while about what I'd really like from an integrated CMS (or CMS system, but that would be a good example of RAS syndrome).

Here's my wish list. Some of these things we have already; some we really should have; others will probably remain a pipe dream. And not a lot of them apply to those forms of journalism that lack a real workflow, such as blogging and tweeting...

Anyway, I'd like a CMS that:

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Subbing in the Age of Live Stories

Karl’s busy responding to comments on his post about subbing. But I think he saved the most important bit of his post for last:

One of the differences between the web and print media is that the
web can be used for interactive, real-time experiences that have more
in common with a live event such as a conference or a group discussion
than with publishing.

So, as I frequently tell our journalists,
when deciding how to behave, it is often useful to ask the question:
“what would we do if this were really a live event, with the audience
in the same room as the journalists?” The implications go far wider
than simply whether or not to sub.

And that’s the concept that’s most often missed in discussions about subbing for the web. Much of the content that goes onto the web isn’t a finished product, but a live object, that will be developed, commented on and linked to. And rethinking subbing for the web will have to take that into account. How do you add value as a sub, to something that continues to change after it’s published?

Greenslade: The Sub-Editor is Redundant

Roy Greenslade, writing on his Guardian blog, paints a far harsher picture of the future of the sub-editor than Karl did in his post:

So I stand by what I said yesterday that we should accept that the current level of subbing numbers could be drastically reduced. In some cases, a layer of the editorial process can be eliminated altogether.

Meanwhile, subbing can also be outsourced in order for hard-pressed newspapers groups to reduce their overheads. The financial facts speak for themselves: hardly any serious national newspaper makes money.

It is therefore sensible for publishers to consider whether to cut costs by having the task done by a centralised collective of skilled journalists elsewhere, be it in Australia or India. And it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Britain’s own Press Association, which already produces thousands upon thousands of ready-to-publish pages every week were to take up that challenge here.


How to Write Great Web Headlines

A couple of subbing-inclined colleagues of mine here at RBI have been running a great blog for the language love called The Engine Room for a while now, even though one of them has finally escaped the fabled brown towers of Sutton.

Now, I have even more evidence that they’re allowed out of the engine room, with a couple of guest posts JD has written for Words at Work:
Good advice in there, along with a nicely Austen-esque web headline. 🙂

Journalists Versus Sub-Editors: It’s War

One of the delights of the social media age is seeing the dark secret of our trade dragged out of the newsroom and into the unblinking gaze of the blogging world. Take, for example, the relationship between reporters and sub-editors. Once, this was a cosy, happy relationship. The hacks went into the field, found the stories and phoned in the details. And the subs actually wrote the damn thing.

And then came the 80s, and desktop publishing, and suddenly the reporters and the subs were in the same room. The reporters had computers on their desks and, horror of horrors, were writing copy. The cold war between sub and hack began. What was at stake? Final control of the copy.

The conflict was waged in a thousand little skirmishes on page proofs. Subbing marks tracked the battle for supremacy. Editors watched helplessly, like ineffectual peace-keepers in a covert war. The best subs could polish a piece to such perfection that the journalist didn't even realise how little it resembled their original work. The worst would butcher it into a state where no-one had any idea what it was about.

But the war was silent, hidden. Few, if any, of the readers had any idea of the battle fought over the words in their hands. But all that has changed.

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