Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Across the pond

A Brit's opinion of American journalism:
When it comes to working in American newsrooms, British journalists have found distinct cultural differences. Annette Witheridge arrived in New York as a News of the World reporter and noticed that her use of shorthand was considered a "novelty", as the skill isn't included on most journalism courses in the US. She also says that reporters don't clean up quotes as they would in the UK; and sub-editors "don't really exist".

"They're called copy editors and seem to concentrate on headlines, which explains how confused, badly written stories constantly appear in the US papers," she says.

Fact checking is routine in US news offices — and after New York Times reporter Jayson Blair was discovered to have concocted countrywide stories from his Brooklyn apartment, it's no surprise to discover that this is even more rigorous.

Tanith Carey, who started as US editor for the Daily Mirror, says it's the biggest adjustment she had to make when entering the American workplace.

"The amount of checking and re-checking of stories that goes on to make sure every single fact is 100 per cent accurate is something they take that very, very seriously on US publications," she says. In magazines it's not unusual for reporters to file full transcripts with complete sourcing, which story editors then write up and research departments check.

I just love that quote: "They're called copy editors and seem to concentrate on headlines, which explains how confused, badly written stories constantly appear in the US papers." It belongs on a mug. Or a plaque. Or my forehead. (But, please, not on a job review.)

1 Comments:

At 11:41 AM, May 09, 2006, Blogger phreaddy said...

I am a "sub editor" for an American-produced, American market trade publication but which is owned by a British company. Believe me, our writing (and editing) is far better than the dreck my British counterparts print.

 

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