There’s nothing worse as a journalist than a mistake creeping into your copy and then published for all to see in print or online.
It would appear to be much easier to correct online, although realistically once live there’s no real recall.
It may have been sent out on distribution lists or caught by screengrab or a smartphone photo and shared ruthlessly on social media (yes, I’ve done it too).
And if it’s in print – it’s there to stay.
Most journalists would probably blame the sub-editor (or sub) whose job it is to check copy and make sure it’s ‘clean’ and they do have a point – even if the journo made the mistake initially – it’s the sub’s job to pick it up.
But now with reduced numbers of both journalists and subs, and with the emphasis on speed to publish online first, the sub’s role seems to have gone out of the window.
Every weekday I receive my morning paper as a digital edition and every weekday you will find me shaking my head or groaning at the number of errors.
Now this is a digital version of the printed paper – it really shouldn’t be that hard, but constantly there are references to pictures that aren’t there, incorrectly captioned photos and don’t get me started on missing words, incorrect use of apostrophes, spelling errors etc etc.
We’re told digital is now – it’s not even the future anymore – so surely it’s a no-brainer our subs should be more important than ever, but quite frankly I see no evidence of them existing at all.
Then we come to the poor old printed edition, which I still engage with on weekends.
In a recent real estate pull-out I was interested to read a feature article on the ‘House of the Week’.
The address is listed no less than three times – not just in a break-out or the header but also in the journalist’s copy.
Twice it’s mentioned that the owners have been there for 35 years.
But the real standout was this par:
The grand entrance courtyard and foyer provide a preview of the home’s elegance, characterised by high ceilings, ornate cornices …
But then in the second to last par of the story I learn:
The grand entrance courtyard and foyer provide a preview of the home’s elegance, characterised by high ceilings and ornate cornices.
Now I don’t know if the journalist didn’t read their copy through properly, or if the sub decided to make some changes and forgot they moved one particular par around, or if there was any subbing done at all, but clearly had anyone actually read through this before it went to print it would have been picked up.
I will now get my husband and fellow journalist to check this through before I publish.