Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Roll up, roll up for Newspaper Roulette

I SOMETIMES think we make this editing lark a bit too complicated.
Ok, so guilty as charged with the three-day training course I have devised, modestly called ‘How to be a Great Editor’ (£895 + VAT, discount for early booking) and apologies to the surprised reader who emailed me this week in cantankerous tones about why we use ages of people in stories only to get a pompous “in all my years as an editor...” phone call.
Today we’re sat in the newsroom in the middle of the first of three long, short weeks (© Blaylock, D. M.) trying to decide what to do with a half-decent tale about a popular town centre restaurant that we learn is closing down. It has succumbed to the pressures of cheaper competition and the site will be sold off for housing, or more likely ‘Delightful Waterfront Residences’.
I don’t like holding anything (insert own joke here) but the only decent space, without tearing up too many finished pages, is back in the twenty-somethings. Next week – a three-day week in the weekly newspaper world – it will get a decent show and maybe even make the front if we dress it up a bit.
So, what to do?
Easy. Toss a coin.
Deputy editor Paul tossed, I called heads and the story lives on to have greatness thrust upon it. It is the result we wanted, but validated by the transparency of the simple flip of a coin.
So, here’s a plan for next week: Newspaper Roulette. Every story is taken in turn, we spin the wheel and the stories are placed from pages 1-36 depending on where the ball falls. Any that fall in 0 are spiked.
As that reader, who called me “The Worst Editor Ever”, will probably agree it seems as good a way as any...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Women in Journalism? I love ’em all

Where are all the women? asks Jane Martinson in today’s MediaGuardian.
The author – “I left news for a part-time role in features” – argues that newspapers are dominated by (white) men and women don’t get a look-in.
“How can we offer a window on society when a big chunk of the population can't see themselves reflected?” writes Ms Martinson.
Well, come to the south-east of England, and I’ll show you windows and reflections galore.
Across our 10 newsrooms we have three women editors, three women news editors, a woman sports editor plus the head of our features team and the deputy of one of the biggest (and, of course, best) subbing units in the country are women.
They are all in their jobs because they are good at what they do, care passionately about the communities they serve and successfully juggle career, home, family and bringing in the coal (sorry, just a joke...).
I don’t know about the “inflexibility and long hours” of a career at Paul Dacre’s Daily Mail that Ms Martinson writes about, but we do our best to fit in with everybody’s life, not just women.
Perhaps that’s why people stick around on our wonderful weekly papers. We don’t do anything particularly special for women employees, but we try to treat everyone with respect and understanding.
In turn, they give us hard work, dedication and the benefit of their many valuable years in journalism.
Long may we all – ‘blokes’ and women – reign...