Super six selected to sub from 'exceptional' group

Bryant: “phenomenal numbers”

There were 900 applications for six jobs after Press Gazette revealed that the Press Association and the Daily Mail are to train sub-editors for the Associated newspaper.

Not all of the six will end up on the Mail subs’ bench at the end of the one-year, fast-track course, but it hasn’t deterred applicants. Pat Pilton, the editorial operations director for PA, and John Bryant, consultant editor at the Daily Mail, selected 30 for interview. The final six include one with Sun experience, one subbing on a regional newspaper and four from postgraduate journalism courses.

Pilton said he believed the course “would make subbing sexy again”, adding: “Subbing has been devalued, I think, becoming very much a technical job. We are putting emphasis on this course on getting the words right. “National papers are very much still subs’ papers. You tend to think of star writers, but the papers are still crafted and put together on the subs’ tables.”

Bryant described the numbers applying as “phenomenal”. “By and large they were quite exceptional candidates. It has shown us that there is a double desire – one is to get into journalism and the other is to take up sub-editing. I was amazed by the response.”

The six will begin six weeks of intensive classroom training at the end of June. After that three will go to Northcliffe’s regional newspapers and three will start with PA, two at the Howden centre in Yorkshire and one on the newswires in London. They will swap over after three months.

By that time, it will be apparent how they are working out and the rest of their year’s contract will be tailored to their needs, said Bryant.

“Subbing is a strange thing. You normally learn it from the person sitting next to you, but we are trying to do something rather different here with specific training,” he said. “Because it’s a pilot programme, and because there are only six and both PA and the Daily Mail are involved, we’ve got high hopes, because the calibre of the mentoring should be very high.”

Pilton said it would be as much a challenge for the trainers as the trainees. “This has never been done before. We have to get them on to the Mail subs table in a year and that’s quite demanding.”

Bryant ran the graduate training scheme at The Times, when he was the paper’s deputy editor. Some of those students are now Fleet Street journalists. “When you see young people with tremendous potential, if they have got the will to work hard, they can have terrific futures very quickly in newspapers. It really is a meritocracy.”

By Jean Morgan

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