The Grey Cardigan 06.01.06

SO ANOTHER year passes and the distance between the bright young
things at the far end of the desk and my own lonely furrow lengthens a
little more.

And it’s not just here that the generation gap
between my newspaper life and theirs becomes more apparent by the day.
In the last issue of Press Gazette, before Piers took all the troops
off to Bermuda for Christmas, I reminisced about the pressures facing
the old Saturday night sports sub as deadline approached: “It was just
you and a comp against the world…”

I should have known better. I
should have written “comp (correct)”. Because whoever subbed my piece
had never heard of the term “comp” as applied to those chaps called
compositors, and instead changed it to “computer”, so moving the story
two decades and several levels of technology forward.

It’s not
the end of the world, but it does illustrate how we’ve allowed our
glorious history of em rules (correct) and galleys (correct) to be
forgotten.

I’ll give you another example. A chap wearing a deaf
aid turned up in the features department of the Evening Beast a few
months ago and has been redesigning pages ever since. Passing by his
desk in the dog days between Christmas and New Year, I made the effort
to be friendly.

“I like what you’ve done with the motors section,” I said. “Is that Bodoni Bold or Cheltenham Bold you’re using for headings?”

The
callow youth gazed at me blankly, removed what turned out to be his
iPod headphones, glanced at his keyboard and said: “It’s F5.”

Sometimes I think it’s time for me to go.

I
KNOW that we’re all short-staffed over the holidays, but that doesn’t
excuse the blatant short-changing of the customer that was all too
evident at the end of 2005.

Frankly, we were rubbish – all of us.
Even national television news programmes descended to the error-strewn
depths of regional coverage with so many missed cues, bad links and
squeakybottomed broken autocues that the next edition of Dennis
Norden’s hilarious Newsreaders Make A Complete Cock Of It is already
oversubscribed.

Newspapers weren’t much better – missing
sections, not even bothering with key elements like the diary columns,
star writers missing in inaction. I’ve spent years listening to
circulation managers witter on about not allowing the reader to break
the buying habit, but if you’re just going to churn out shite, you may
as well not bother at all.

AN MP called Claire Curtis- Thomas
(New Labour, Wimmin)n wants the disgracefully salacious Sunday Sport
banished to the top shelf of the newsagents alongside Mr Desmond’s
specialist magazines. It’s a soft target but we should not
automatically denigrate those who toil on such publications.

There is, out there, a huge team of raincoat-clad gentlemen known as The Gusset Snappers.

These
photographers spend their working hours prowling the nation’s streets,
rain or shine, looking for short-skirted young ladies who have just
dropped a shilling and are bending over to retrieve it.

It can’t
be easy work, but it is a sign of their dedication to duty that never a
day passes without one of these ladies gracing the front page of the
Sport publications.

Ms Curtis-Thomas would do well to think carefully about messing with such a fine journalistic tradition.

You can contact me, should you be minded, at thegreycardigan@gmail.com

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