Daily scrubs subs in online trial

A TRIAL to bypass sub-editors and let reporters file directly to a website is being undertaken by a leading daily newspaper.

A so-called post-moderated sub-editing system is being deployed in a restricted number of content areas.

The aim is to increase efficiency by forcing the commissioning editor to decide what line and format an online article should take rather than hand off that responsibility to a sub-editor or editor of the content area.

The trial, in response to pressure to reduce costs, is being conducted at Britain’s Daily Telegraph – renowned for its forward-thinking. Currently, 60 percent of the newspaper’s online publishing budget is spent on production compared with 40 percent on content generation.

Assistant editor Justin Williams laid out the trial when speaking with journalism.co.uk during an industry event called, “What Happens to Newspapers”.

He told journalism.co.uk: “The cost of publishing has now fallen to zero and that’s ultimately what we’re struggling with. We have to get to a point where our journalists deliver their content to whoever wants to get it, and it has to cost us nothing to do that if we are to survive,” he said.

“What does that mean for sub-editors? I would not become a sub-editor now. The future for sub-editing is bleak, there may still be a future, but we have to drive down costs.”

The site made sure the union had something to say about this. Predictably, Tim Gopsill, editor of the National Union of Journalists’ (NUJ) magazine, The Journalist, complained. “Once you remove the process of refining material to meet your brand, you’re not having a process of quality control at all.”

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