Brian Cathcart: In defence of sub-editors

Kingston University journalism professor Brian Cathcart has come to the defence of sub-editors following Roy Greenslade’s comments – first reported by Press Gazette – at the Publishing Expo summit last week.

Speaking on the Radio 4 Media Show this afternoon, Cathcart said that while subbing was likely to be “squeezed” in the downturn, sub-editors shouldn’t “be at the front of the queue for the chop”.

“There is this army of people who are out there serving the industry of journalism who police this in quite a private and quiet way,” he told Ed Stourton, who is filling in for Steve Hewlett this week.

“Money is obviously a big element and everything else in the industry is being squeezed. Those are the sorts of sacrifices that are having to be made in the current squeeze in the industry.”

Greenslade has argued that, in a fast-moving digital age, journalists could sub-edit their own stories after writing them.

“What we need are writers, reporters who can produce copy which is already accurate, obeys the law and so on,” he said on today’s show.

“We expect our radio and TV reporters to obey the law and make sense when they speak. Why don’t we expect our newspaper journalists to do the same thing?”

To which Cathcart responded: “I don’t know why the digital age would make reporters able to spell.”

And he told Stourton: “If you were to write down your words they would need a bit of dolling up before they were presentable in print.”

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