“Good subbing should be invisible, excellent subbing you won’t be able to avoid.” The wise words of Jeremy White, Esquire’s Chief Sub will hopefully stay in my mind longer than the teeline outline for Esquire, writes Emily Noszkay.
Jeremy took time out to talk to students at Brighton Journalist Works and highlighted the qualities good subs should have and the common pitfalls of interviewees that would have editors ripping up a CV.
The fact we didn’t win the spelling bee three years in a row, is apparently not a problem, and although we should check and double-check everything carefully, nailing the tone of the publication will be the key to success.
Jeremy said anyone about to embark on work experience/ freelance work or an interview for a job should take the time to read the publication before turning up. Seems pretty straight forward we thought. Apparently not.
If announcing that you are the “guardian of the tone of the magazine” sent from above (don’t say the second bit) doesn’t secure you the job, be sure to have some praises and constructive criticism up your well- dressed sleeve.
You will always be asked what you like and dislike about the publication, but remember, no editor wants to hear how bad their magazine is. In essence, smile when you say something bad and always say how you will fix the very, very, very minor problem.
The main reason for everyone’s broad smile after Jeremy left was not his pink socks but his declaration that 70-80% of most people working in journalism were “RUBBISH”. This made us feel a little more confident about breaking onto the journalism scene.
So fear not students, if you know who your reader is and you can separate your heads from your sells, you are probably half way there. Just don’t mess up the front page.
Rebecca Cooney writes:
The Chief Sub-editor of Esquire magazine spoke today about the importance of sub-editing in the newspaper, magazine and publishing industries.
He said: “As a sub-editor, you’re not just a walking, talking dictionary; you are the guardian of the tone of the magazine, and the first reader.”
Sub-editors should prove they’ve done their homework by knowing who the reader of the publication is, in a minutely detailed way, before they arrive for work, work experience or interview.
He described writing headlines and sells as being the most important part of the job, and warned the assembled students to avoid using clichés, repetition or stating the obvious.
Referring examples of bad subbing, he said: “It’s boring for the reader. For example, ‘Arsonists set car on fire’- well I wouldn’t expect them to do anything else.”
He offered hope to students looking for jobs both in sub-editing and writing, saying those prepared to work hard, come up with creative interesting ideas, speak up when they saw room for improvement and had a can-do attitude, would stand out and be remembered by editors.
Emily Hoquee writes:
Students learnt about sub-editors role as the “guardians” of the magazine’s tone, and how important it is for magazines to know their customers intimately. Jeremy gave some great advice about what makes a really good sub: avoid clichés, don’t be a massive pedant and write great heads and sells.
Journalist Works students can spend two weeks on work experience at Esquire magazine. Tea-making skills are not necessary but plenty of hard work and enthusiasm will be rewarded by a brilliant opportunity to be involved in every step of the magazine’s production.
Sarah Morgan writes:
Subbing standards these day are often below par, Esquire magazine’s Chief Sub-Editor told Brighton Journalist Works students this lunchtime.
Jeremy White visited the group to talk about his experiences from training as a journalist to the heights of subbing a top men’s magazine.
He showed students that good and bad subbing is everywhere and easy to spot, picking up a copy of today’s newspaper and flicking through spotting errors and clichés.
Students were entertained by a discussion of the devastatingly poor job applications Jeremy had seen in his time as a Chief Sub, and were given advice on the interview process.
Jeremy said British journalists are extremely well-regarded in Australia, possibly overly so, so now I’m dreaming of that beach-front Sydney magazine….