Tuesday, February 04, 2014

What is a sub-editor?

Most people are familiar with job titles like editor, writer and graphic designer, but there also exists a particular lesser known job title in media work: that of a sub-editor. 

What is a sub-editor? A sub-editor (or sub, in journalism parlance) is the person who goes over stories written by journalists line-by-line.

They check for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors - dirty work which is not the responsibility of editors.

They trim the stories and fit them in pages of print publications.

When a writer contradicts himself in a story, they knock some sense in the writer's head.

Subs are also trained to write headlines, captions and puns. They know how to say a lot with few words.

But they have less authority than editors.

And on top of that, subs also do not get credit for their work. When an article becomes popular, it is the writer who usually gets all the credit.

But subs' contribution can be the deciding factor in whether articles get read or ignored. The reason why the articles you see in newspapers, magazines and websites are pleasant to read is because these articles have been subedited.

In many cases, subs are the last line of defence in publications. They protect writers from sounding unintelligible or looking like fools or from getting sued.

Subediting is not an easy job. Neither is it for everyone.

First of all, you obviously need to have a keen eye for mistakes.

You also need to be patient to spend long hours in front of the PC.

Subs also tend to be anal people. It is common for them to fight with writers over things like missing photos, missing captions and factual errors.

Subs hate last-minute alterations and will give you dirty looks if you try to do one.

After a while, subs tend to form a mental list of 'preferred' clients - fastidious writers in the team who send in fairly clean copies, thereby making their lives less miserable.

I once did subediting work for 4 months. I lost 4kg.

This new year, if you are looking for an effective weight loss programme, this could be it for you.

p.s: This post has been subbed.

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