I’d been thinking about the significance of the fact that the 12 publications had all based their copy on an news agency article (itself later revised). That defence simply didn’t hold water with the PCC. A good victory for Nick Davies’ fight against churnalism, perhaps.
But Shepherd was more perturbed by the fact that nine of the 12 perpetrators were online publications, as she wrote in a blog post:
“In lots of the cases in this adjudication, the original version didn’t make the paper. The offending detail was removed, by subs who know the rules.”
“The web DOES need subs,” she continues.
Andy Dickinson joins the debate, saying that he agrees with Shepherd, “but perhaps that’s one of the tough pills to swallow in these leaner times.”
“Perhaps we let the responsibility for that stuff slide. Time for individual journos to take back that skill?”
I think he’s got a point. The best that can come of these cost-cutting times is more individual responsibility for work. Yes, in every ideal news environment (though people like IFRA Newsplex’s Dietmar Schantin argue that the more subbing stages you have the more errors are introduced) we’d have things checked by more than one pair of eyes.
But … jobs are in short-supply and some kind of survival of the fittest has to take place. At the moment that seems to mean you need to be cheap, do multimedia and turn out copy quickly. Wouldn’t it be good if the journalists to rise to the top were also capable of making the same quick judgments as sub-editors? Is that really too much to ask?