Tag Archives: training

Are sub editors a dying breed?

Mediaguardian reports that regional newspaper Archant Suffolk is to replace 20 subs with designers.

The article focuses on the cutting of costs – designers are allegedly paid less – but it also adds fuel to the firey debate (clunk) about whether sub editors are a dying breed.

Do we really need subs as more and more news operations adopt a blog led / web approach to layout, effectively letting journalists drop their copy into a santised web template.

Doug Richard of Dragon’s Den fame, has suggested more publishers will go this way as they chase a reduction in overheads.

Not a good time to be a sub editor wethinks. Be good to hear from sub editors on this topic.

Read the Guardian story in full

Read Roy Greenslade’s blog post on this story – with comments

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Keep web copy short? Tell that to my client

Nice post from the goodcontent blog which points out that the vast majority of web editors are trained in keeping their text tight and to a bare minimum. So advice from Jakob Nielsen is pretty much useless – when you have a client or marketing manager who wants (gnnnugh!) ‘welcome text’.

Read ‘Yes Mr Nielsen, right you are…’ in full.

‘Digital litter-acy’ fears over privacy as Facebook opens up to search engines

Get worried if you’re applying for a job – HR departments might soon be able to see your profile via major search engines.
Om Malik suggests that opening up social networks could spell trouble, given that we’re leaving ‘digital litter’ all over the place.
Social network profiles – and blogs – represent a weapon of mass destruction when it comes to the future of thousands of young career hopefuls.

Not everyone opts for the shock and awe approach of Aleksey Vayner’s video CV, but many younger users may be in danger of indirectly damaging their own employment prospects hundreds of times over, without realising it, thanks to blog entries that would horrify even the most progressive of human resources departments.

It’s vital that users consider the consequences before adding anything controversial to their blog. Users still – mistakenly – believe that throwaway comments made on a blog don’t really ‘count’ in the real world, when in fact the opposite is true.
Why else would big brands be wooing opinion forming bloggers? The authorities are now also beginning to treat abusive comments via friends’ blogs or social network profiles as seriously as any other form of bullying.

Sadly, there’s very little guarantee that a blogger can properly delete their adolescent ramblings later on in life. Content can continue to haunt a job seeker, thanks to cached pages on search engines and the blogging community’s tendency to borrow content from other sites and republish it as their own.

The ability to publish and distribute one’s own thoughts and ramblings to millions around the world with minimal effort is clearly an attractive premise. But more has to be done to educate young web users (at the very least) about the potential dangers and encourage awareness of ‘digital litter-acy’.

More on this over at i-boy.com, who suggests Facebook can justify moves like this if they’re to continue giving acccess to their services for free.

Andrew Marr: how to write a column

Okay, it’s money for old rope, but this is such great advice we just had to re-link (?) Andrew Marr’s words of wisdom on column writing one more time.

These tips apply to anyone writing an analysis of events or creative writing, not just superstar columnists on national newspapers.

Talking of Marr, has anyone seen any Telegraph columns of his of late. Apart from the usual interview-before-the-serialisation-starts for his latest tome, has he stopped writing for the Telegraph? We do hope not – now that Bill Deedes has sadly gone, the newspaper should do all it can to keep its talent pool.

Agile and project management – the *HORROR*

We hear that digital agencies all over London are fast implementing the new black in project management – Agile.

The pros and cons of using Agile in the web development process are well documented on the web, so we won’t be tackling them here – unless requested. No, what we do want to do is get a flavour / straw poll on how Agile has been received across digital businesses.

  • Has it been tricky to implement?
  • Has it delivered cost savings? If so – for the agency or the client?
  • Are you having to throw away two weeks worth of work each time you have a ‘huddle’ / end a ‘sprint’?
  • If resources / staff are ring fenced for projects, then have your costs leapt up as you try to resource for other projects?

Tell us what you think – leave a comment! No idea what Agile is? Watch these short videos.

Web content editor pay and the ‘ultimate web editor’

Friends tell me of the armies of technical staff / developers now giving up permanent positions to go freelance after hearing they can earn far more in the market. Oddly, this doesn’t appear to be the case for web editors – we’re seeing salaries and daily rates level out. This is despite the ongoing debate about editors being required to take on more technical and community led tasks – all of which are skilled – as part of their ongoing remit of responsibilities.

Question 1: what is the going rate salary / day rate for a general web editor?

Question 1: what skills and experience are you finding it difficult to source e.g. community management, technical, knowledge of marketing?

Humour us on this one -we’re going to use this to create a job spec for the ‘perfect/ultimate web editor’, assuming such a thing can exist.

What does a Community Manager do exactly?

Many of the web editors I know are looking to broaden their experience in community management. Why? Well, now that content managment is about editing (or rather ‘filtering’) user submitted content just as much as it’s about editing a ‘broadcast / top down’ product, editors want to future proof their skill set.

So I ask you: what are the skill sets needed for a community manager? What skills can a web editor learn to extend their experience in this area?

A job ad in NMA on April 2007 detailed the following, albeit brief, requirements:

As a brand new website for interior design trends and hence has enormous scope
for creativity. As Community Manager your role will be to lead incentives to
increase membership sign-ups across the website. You will manage email alerts
and generate quality content, that stimulate quality activity and grow traffic
across the site. Excellent copy writing skills essential.

“Lead incentives to increase memberships sign-ups”, “generate quality content” and “grow traffic”? Aren’t these tasks expected of a normal web editor? With this in mind, is there a distinguishable difference between the traditional web editor and the community manager? Do tell me.

In the meantime, here’s a good post on the evolving role of the community manager on onlinecommunityreport.com.

Textile – a content editor’s nightmare?

Spent years trying to get to grips with HTML only to find the CMS you’ve inherited uses its own mark up language? Well, you’ll be pleased to know that yet another web editing shorthand has been created: textile.

Replacing the need to use ‘strong’ tags, for example, with a simple:

*This is a bold title!*

…textile takes no time to pick and pretty much covers most quick web editing tasks.

Textile is nothing new and, in my opinion, gets complicated once you try more complex tasks – like tables – but it should speed up editing times and take some of the pain out of basic web page editing.

So – will textile finally ease the pain of trying to source a decent web editor (or even, gulp, a copywriter) with hard to find skills in basic HTML?

Perhaps. I’ll flag up any textile resources I come across, but in the meantime, below are a couple of textile tastic links for your viewing pleasure:


It’s OFFICIAL: Most content editors are crap.

I once got a freelancer in to review editorial on a youth focused website.

We’d developed it over time and wanted to get a second opinion on whether it was doing its job properly. An editor can get a little too comfortable after a while so I wanted to make sure we weren’t suffering from ‘beige creep’ (yes, a completely made up word).

Her CV was above average and her experience at a number of decent youth sites (MTV, BBC etc) convinced me that her £180 day rate was good value.

The anecdotal feedback and opinion on audience preferences for language and tone were sound, but when I asked about the basics, I got a shock.

“Best practice web copy says avoiding passive sentences, so keep an eye out for those,” I said.

“What’s a passive sentence?” came the reply…

Content editors – is the market screwed?

I’ve just spotted something on new media job markets.

Talking about the life that Account Executives lead, Ask.com’s Sean X Cummings calls for higher pay for staff and observes: “In a tight job market two things happen: You pay more for talent that is less talented, and that talent never ceases to stop reminding the AE of their other options.”

Reading this reminded me of the recent staff / pay review by NMA which suggested that content staff and web editors are some of the lowest paid staff in new media. Yet, whenever I’m looking to hire a decent editor, I’m experiencing the nightmare scenario that Sean describes.

Have all the decent content editors run for cover at Sky, the BBC, MTV or ITV, because freelance isthin on the ground and the market’s slowing down? Or is it the lure of employers paying higher than average salaries?

It’s nigh on impossible to find a decent content editor who can turn their hand to all things content – ie copywriting, uploading content via a CMS, IA work, content review work and even a little journalism. It’s really tricky getting an expert in just one of these disciplines. Does no one try to develop their skills in all areas? Do they not buy books on copywriting? How to be a better journalist? Ever read Andrew Marr’s book on journalism ‘My Trade’?

Perhaps it’s time I set up a recruitment agency…
[Via iMedia Connection]