Tag Archives: Media

EDF awards South East – where are all the newspapers?

Last week the shortlist was announced for this years EDF Energy Media Awards for the South East. Look at the website of the Year category. We have BBC Kent, the Kent County Council enterprise Kent TV, run by a freelance media company, and Archant’s Ham and High.

What we don’t have is any showing by the big three. No Johnson Press – the News is very well represented elsewhere in the list but despite being JPs biggest selling paper, no sign of their website on the shortlist. No Northcliffe – despite the fact that AND has just been nominated in the Newspaper Society’s online awards – and no Newsquest. although the Argus has recently launched the new version of Newsquest’s template. And not forgetting Trinity, who are also conspicuous by their absence.

I’m not sure how much of this is down to papers deciding not to enter and how much is the websites not making the grade. It will be interesting to see what the judges say.

But the former indicates a disturbing lack of pride in the product and the latter suggests that none of the big boys have so far got it right. Neither option is very encouraging.

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The point of this whole shebang

At the moment, I sub for a living.  As a student, subbing was my dream job. (Now I dream of having the authority to make some long overdue changes to certain newspapers’ websites, but that’s another post.)

The trouble is, now that I am a sub, I find the job is not what it once was.

Partly that’s the fault of subs themselves, who no longer consider it their job to rewrite copy, remove cliches, check facts or query the angle but are content with ‘making it fit’.

And partly it’s down to that oft-repeated ‘truth’: subs aren’t needed for the internet.

So print subs resign themselves to becoming irrelevant. And as a result, they become irrelevant.

I disagree.  Here’s three of the reasons why:

1. In many newsrooms the internet revolution is still in its infancy. And I’ve never been in a newsroom where a reporter and news editor have the time to produce two distinct versions of a story for each medium. Who’s going to take the print copy and sub for the web (and of course vice versa)?

2. Web headlines are an art. we all know how important geo-tagging and SEO is. But if you want a web headlines that don’t consist solely of place names and SEO terms, you need someone with skill and imagination.

3. Similarly, the web intro that is all the reader sees of the story.  Should it be the same as the one that has appeared/will appear in the paper? What about your feature content?  How we sell the story to the reader is, if anything, more important than in print.

Now I know there will those who say reporters can do all that, the Northcliffe give-them-a-box-and-
they’ll-fill-it school of subbing.

But I’ve never been in a newsroom where they were doing successfully. And I’d bet that’s the case in lots of the smaller regional newsrooms.

So the challenge for the sub who wants to survive is to make themselves relevant. Don’t just upload what you’re given in the form you’re given it. Apply the skills that got you the job in the first place.

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