‘What will you miss when newspapers are gone?’

Will you miss me, Seth Godin? You don’t seem to mention copy editors, concentrating as you have in your post on the loss of  ‘local news, investigative journalism and intelligent coverage of national news’.

I am/was a sub-editor who is having to check less and less as life moves online and into endless opinion. My job has all but disappeared. The ‘invisible’ skill – to the readers anyway – of copy editing, checking and proofreading may be missed as reputations fall, libel and copyright court cases soar, stocks crash on the back of incorrect tagging and anal grammar pundits click away in annoyance.

While you’ve obviously done a spell-check on your column, I did have to laugh at:

I worry about the quality of a democracy when the the state government …

And I worry about the quality of ‘the the’ content, and where I will be able to find checked content. I’m not meaning to nitpick. It’s a small example, nothing to bother about. But it’s the trustworthiness, I will miss; the knowing that what I’m reading has been via the lawyers, a copy editor and/or a chief sub-editor.

We can all live with a  few spelling/grammar stuff -ups. But it’s kind of like airlines and maintenance. If the seatbacks don’t work and the carpets are worn, then you don’t care but you do worry about the engine. The trust has gone. 

So I think the ‘invisible’ sub-editor may finally become visible when newspapers are gone – and, even with the tabloid spin, it’s them who I’ll miss. And in case you think I’m feeling sorry for myself, I don’t think that’s it. My job’s already moved on. The sub-editing element has sunk to less than 20%. I’m just another opinionated media outlet now!

2 responses to “‘What will you miss when newspapers are gone?’

  1. What will I miss? Well I think you’re spot on about the subbing, rewriting, making better. But then there’s the design, the snappy headline, the clever caption, the arresting and powerful front pages:





    No contest in my book.

  2. The thing is I like to get my news online because it’s faster, more immediate and I’m not stuck with one media outlet’s take on it. I feel like I’m there IN the newsroom when following a breaking story on Twitter rather than waiting to have the newsroom’s editorial package delivered to me.

    But I do hope that the skills you mention and link to will transfer because at the moment SEO is killing the kind of headers that would normally draw me in.

    Then again I’m in a dilemma because while I love thinking up ‘clever captions’ and having fun with wordplay when I sub, it’s also becoming a clichéd turn-off, plus the SEO factor is giving me a break from tabloid spin.