Why we need sub-editors

Guardian story on Spooks

Sub-editors have become something of an endangered species at all too many media  companies.

But you only had to turn to page three of The Guardian on November 12, 2010 to see why we need them more than ever now. (The same error was in the story on the website as of 11 am.)

Many of the Guardian’s readers will spot the error in the third paragraph of the main story:  “At last the BBC finds someone who takes Spooks seriously: the Chinese government” .

In an aside, the writers says the current series finished on Sunday night. But it didn’t. It finished on Monday night.

The fact that this mistake made it in to the paper raises two questions. We’ll set aside the first one, which is whether it can really be true that no one who read that story before it was published watches television.

The more important one is: what else is wrong in the story? I don’t know, but now I wonder.  And so will lots of other people.

Quality and accuracy are supposed to be the things that separate mainstream media  from the so-called digital amateurs snapping at their heels.

Mistakes, even small ones like this, damage that trust.

And that’s why we need subs.

(Watch this space for news of our new e-learning subbing course, due to be launched soon.)

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