Industrial editing: definitions

Sub-editing. This rare and hard-won skill requires the sub-editor to be totally in tune with the way that the author’s mind is working, identifying the paragraphs of which he is most proud, and deleting them.

Management clearance. This has a similar result to sub-editing, except that the deleted paragraphs are replaced with copy in which the company or brand name is mentioned in every line.

Rough copy. Six pages of indeciperable scrawl.

Clean copy. Two pages of typing errors.

Photo-copy. A smudgy black document upon which it may or may not be just possible to discern some words.

Journalistic licence. Sometimes expressed as ‘I couldn’t read my notes, so I just guessed’.

Writer’s block. A sudden and uncontrollable attack of bone idelness. Sufferers from writer’s block have been known to turn towards Shakespeare for inspiration.

Shakespeare. A public house in Great Marlborough Street, London, W1.

Gifted amateur. Illiterate schoolboy.

Final copy deadline. The date on which you have to sit down at the typewriter and start producing copy.

Press day. The date on which you have to start chasing the chairman for his message to employees.

Chairman. An invaluable layout aid. Photos of same can serve as an anchor for virtually every page of every issue.

Layout. The art of drawing lots of squiggles on a large pad, then telling the editor to lose 800 words.

Photographs. A useful aid to editors. Used large, they eliminate the need to write great quantities of copy.

Heading. A short piece of clever-dick copy that draws attention to an incidental piece of information buried somewhere in the second half of the story.

Cross-headings. See ‘photographs’ above.

Photo-cropping. The art of trimming a photograph in such a way as to remove, from the left-hand side of the picture, the person who was fired last week.

Editorial committee. A body of people whose function is to suggest, at regular intervals, that the paper should run a recipe page.

Source: Ernest Bracken (a long time ago!)

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