B2B Job Focus: Sub-Editors

In a previous post, we described different career paths available to B2B reporters. In this article, we explore the significant part played by sub-editors/copy-editors in the editing process!

Sub-editors / Copy-editors

Sub-editors who work for newspapers and magazines are often called copy-editors (or subs). Their role is to process the copy that will appear in their publication. They must ensure that it is accurate, free of mistakes, makes sense and reads well.

Sub-editors often sit in/next to the production team. They do not write articles, but they edit the work of others to “house-style” and adhere to word counts. They also write headlines, standfirsts, captions and summaries. Their duties may include laying out pages too.

Typical tasks

  • correcting spelling or grammar/typographical errors
  • writing headlines, abstracts and captions
  • checking the article’s accuracy and spotting potential legal problems
  • cutting or editing copy to fit on the page
  • liaising with reporters and editors
  • laying out pages

Sub-editors need to be meticulous and ready to edit heavily if necessary. They are more often than not the crafty hands turning articles into compelling stories. They need to be very organised and able to work to tight deadlines.

Many sub-editors trained as journalists before moving on to this position. Unfortunately a lot of publishers outsourced their sub-editing/production function in the last decade and journalists and editors often have to fill in for sub-editors as they don’t have the in-house staff required. And the line is sometimes very thin between these positions.

Career Path

The National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), the Society of Editors and the Publishing Training Centre offer preliminary accredited qualifications or copy-editing courses by distance learning. Graduates with relevant qualifications, such as a degree in English, media or publishing are also considered. The career path for a sub-editor includes being promoted to senior and potentially chief sub-editor or production editor. Their main role is to supervise a team of sub-editors and oversee the whole production process, making sure the magazine is delivered on time and to schedule.

Next week, we will be entering the fascinating world of Market Reporters!

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