It’s the reader, stupid

I have been a journalist for a long time, enough to have some thoughts about the meaning of what I do. And there are some things I find I feel quite strongly about, after all this time.

I entered journalism with an English degree, rather than any academic training in the profession itself. So a lot of what I am about to say is based on pragmatic engagement, rather than lecture-room learning. Nevertheless, I have covered a lot of ground. So here is how my learning curve went. Continue reading

House style… just a waste of time?

In America, they are called copy editors. In South Africa, they are called sub-editors. They form a vanishingly small percentage of the world population, and yet they are somewhat powerful. Because much of the text disseminated by the world’s media passes before their eyes and gets fixed, or changed, or mutilated, or left alone. They correct grammar and spelling, they rewrite clumsy phrases, they cut copy to fit an allocated space and in most publications they write headlines. So far, so familiar – most people who read newspapers or news websites or magazines are aware that such people exist and have a vague idea of what they do.
Continue reading