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Panpa Bulletin : March 2011
www.panpa.org.au The PANPA Bulletin | MARCH 2011 | 5 P.O. Box 2187, Milton BC, Qld 4064, Australia. Phone +61 417 709 099 email: firstname.lastname@example.org web: www.dianastowers.com Build product knowledge, communication skills and professional confidence in your sales team.Give them the tools required to communicate more effectively in the marketplace. Call today to hear how quickly and simply an affordable training program can be tailored to suit your needs. How to grow your business The Sub-hub Club THE move towards cen- tralised sub-editing is a fast- emerging global trend. Some 51 percent of editors worldwide intend to prioritise changes in their newsroom in the name of efficiency – and centralising or outsourcing sub-editing is a significant part of their strategies. In Australasia, we are even more aggressive with 54 percent saying they intend to take action this year, accord- ing to a study by the global association, WAN-Ifra. News Ltd has launched its fourth sub-editing hub, called NewsCentral N SW, at its Holt Street offices in Sydney. This operation pools subbing responsibilities for the Daily and Sunday Telegraph and will eventually embrace Cumber- land Courier Newspapers and sections of The Australian. Francois Pierre Nel, author of WAN-Ifra’s World News- paper Future & Change Study 2010 and the upcoming 2011 study, has been helping UK regional groups, such as those owned by Trinity Mirror and Johnston Press, to revitalise editorial production. Mr Nel told The Bulletin shifts in consumer behaviour and the economic downturn had made cost-cutting ven- tures essential. “Almost a quarter of Aus- tralasian companies reported revenues down 20 percent or more in the last financial year,” he said. “Earlier research has found outsourcing can save 10 to 50 percent of in-house costs. If the outsourcing partnership is well-managed, it can produce as good or better results in quality and efficiency.” Mr Nel said the biggest benefit of cutting costs for newspaper companies is that it will put them in a better position to pursue strategic goals, such as build the capac- ity to innovate. A key concern about cen- tralised sub-editing is that it severs a connection between the paper and its local com- munity. The argument sug- gests poor local knowledge increases the likelihood of mistakes. For example, a recent edition of the UK’s Brighton Argus which was subbed in Southampton referred to a Brighton student as a ‘bright- en student’. Mr Nel believes print jour- nalists need to take responsi- bility for their work. “The standard of subbing depends on the persons do- ing the job, regardless of whether they’re in-house or outsourced,” he said. Campbell Reid, group editorial director at News Ltd, agrees, saying: “If a reporter sends to a subbing hub a piece of copy which has the mayor’s name spelt wrong, or the street spelt wrong, then the fault is not of the subs; the fault is with the people at the coal face. And in this day and age, the excuse for making those mistakes is zero. “For too long we have, as an industry, been guilty of shovelling inadequate and sometimes inaccurate copy to the sub’s desk with the expectations they will make it better,” Mr Reid said. Some grounding for sub- editors does not go amiss. News Ltd’s Northern Territory News is subbed over 3000kms away in a hub in Adelaide and the subs were instructed in common street names in Darwin, and key politicians and local identities. “Plus, our pages are live,” said Mr Reid. “So the edi- tors can see the pages being subbed as if the sub was sit- ting in front of them. They can send message and make corrections and keep an eye on quality. It’s not as if you shovel your material off to a subbing hub and the next time you see it is when you pick it up in the morning.” Journalist unions, such as the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) in Australia, have been vocal in their concern about the struc- tural changes to sub editors’ roles. Increased workloads, dis- ruption of the rhythm of the traditional sub-editorial day and increased travel time to and from work are issues on the union’s agenda. The latter point is particularly pertinent for subs at the Central Coast Express Advocate, who would need to commute to Sydney from their homes over an hour away. Job cuts are also a major concern. Mr Reid could not confirm job losses, saying “we are still working on the final numbers”. “While efficiencies are part of every aspect of a newspaper business now, our primary motivation at NewsCentral NSW is to re-energise the art of subbing and journalism production – putting subbing back to its rightful levels in our major newsrooms.” News Ltd’s implementation of hubs in Melbourne, Ad- elaide, Brisbane and now Syd- ney were initially confronting, according to Mr Reid, but they have had the unintended consequence of preparing the company for publishing to multiple platforms. “When we established our first sub-hub two years ago we didn’t think we would be pro- ducing iPad editions because we didn’t know what an iPad was,” said Mr Reid. “The skilling up of pro- duction journalism and new systems will take sub-editing, layout, design and headline writing into a new era. “The people that are going to take production journalism into the future are our sub editors.” Mr Reid said subs from metro and local newspapers were now learning from each other. The MEAA argues the integration of suburban and metro subs raises questions over pay structures, as subs from suburban papers who were on grade 5 were dropped toagrade4intheNewsLtd sub-editing hubs. In Melbourne, suburban subs have been offered a permanent 4 percent pay rise to keep up with their metropolitan subs, as well as a one-off payment of A$2,000 and A$3,000. In Sydney, subs have been offered a 4 percent rise as a one-off bonus, a cur- rent point of contestation with the Union. Francois Nel pointed out change, even necessary and wel- come change, was never easy. “A successful outcome de- pends as much on how things are done than on what is done. It’s not only a change in systems, it’s a change for the people. How they are managed and supported is critical,” he said. Mr Reid said News Ltd was aware existing editorial production was cumbersome, particularly at the interface between legacy print systems and internet publishing sys- tems. “We have to do work in that area to make sure the work- load is no more difficult than it needs to be,” said Mr Reid. “It’s exciting that subs are moving into a new world which recognises their skills and their experience and provides a career path. Is that career path likely to be a bit busier? Yes, but that’s the way of the world, and being busy at work is not something that we should be arguing against – it makes life exciting. “If we get it right and get our profits and revenues where they ought to be, the future can be extremely exciting. If we dig into our trenches and refuse to change, our future will be unexciting and not very long-lived.” Rebecca Leaver NPA It’s not as if you shovel your material off to a subbing hub and the next time you see it is when you pick up the newspaper in the morning” “ Sub-editors at the hub in Adelaide, who edit the Northern Territory News which is based 3000km away Campbell Reid believes sub hubs revive the art of subbing in newsrooms