Why we neeed good subedtiors and riters

The Guardian has reproduced a strongly worded email which was sent by a senior staff member to subs and writers on the Sunday Express, pointing out mistakes in an edition of the paper. The article is priceless and should be read in full by anyone who cares about language.

"P2 – The lead begins with a name but the surname is not capped up. The stupid phrase 'ahead of' appears three times in the copy. We are then told 'fewer than one in five voters were happy with Brown's premiership'. That means none. The GCSEs story said 'almost six in 10 pupils'. So is that five or four? Voters and pupils don't come in fractions.

P3 – Why wasn't there a drop cap start to the story? Those weekly paper staples 'local residents' and a 'local fan' put in an appearance.

P4 – The splash turn says Maddie was kidnapped. Really? I thought nobody knew what happened to her.

P5 – Someone is described as an 'ex-pat'. At the very least that's amateurish. Look, let's make it really simple; if you don't know what a word means or how it's spelt, don't f***ing use it.

P6 – The caption says 'rail-soaked' instead of rain-soaked.

P9 – The conflict in Georgia provides us with some classic bollocks. What is a 'battle tank'? Does this mean wars now have referees who decide whether or not a tank is allowed to go into battle?"

And so it goes on, right up to: "P84 – Neil Hamilton writes: 'See Venice and die, the saying goes.' Er, no it f***ing doesn't, as our angry reader was quick to tell the editor. Stop writing this drivel and subs, stop letting it through."

I thank Nature's Chief Subeditor, a noble gentleman, for drawing my attention to this article.

Giles Coren has recently had some trouble with the Times subs (strangely, his frustrations erupted in The Guardian, aka The Grauniad, not in his own organ). His Downfall is here (video, but even I watched half of it, admittedly with the sound off).

14 thoughts on “Why we neeed good subedtiors and riters

  1. Maxine, that is indeed priceless. Mrs Ernest Scribbler, who is sitting next to me and has forgotten more about subbing than I’ll ever know, is nodding sagely in agreement.

  2. Maxine, I am happy my computer, which has been acting up, is behaving this week or I might have missed this. It is quite, quite wonderful. This and Norman’s chat with ‘Reg Keeland’ are blog highlights of the week, I should say. Thanks.

  3. Maxine this was brilliant but Giles Coren’s problem brought to my attention the reason for my own downfall.
    The definition of a nosher is one who is weak-willed about food and dieting.

  4. Effing hilarious. I laughed out loud at
    “P18 – The Fergie and Andy story says they’re in the Scottish Highlands, probably to make clear they’re not in the English, Welsh or Lithuanian bloody Highlands.”
    Thanks Maxine (and for the shout out at the Other Place).

  5. Howwwwllll!!!! Thank you, Maxine; I really needed a lift; and, this one blasted yours truly out of this world. (I’m sillily smirkily grinning so hard I’m gittin’ lipstick on my ears.)

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    BOOKS, INQ.: THE EPILOGUE . . .
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  6. This is GREAT! Amazing that so many errors got through though. How the heck did such lousy copy editors get hired? (I *loved* the “battle tank” concept….Although maybe the poor sub ed was thinking of Hummers, which are domestic tanks!)

  7. The sub was thinking of ‘main battle tank’ I suppose, where ‘main’ modifies ‘battle’; ‘battle’ does not modify ‘tank’.

  8. I read article in The Guardian and, of course, immediately checked my blog. I found 4 posts where I used “of course.” I won’t make that mistake again.

  9. Wonderful. Someone needs to say it. However … perhaps they should think first ….
    “We are then told ‘fewer than one in five voters were happy with Brown’s premiership’. That means none. The GCSEs story said ‘almost six in 10 pupils’. So is that five or four? Voters and pupils don’t come in fractions.”
    If 18% of voters were happy that would be ‘fewer than one in five’. Presumably they canvassed more than 5 voters?

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