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The NHS has a mush-wimp moment

September 8, 2011 Leave a comment

The Daily Mail, along with Guido Fawkes and others, is quite rightly having a lot of fun with this online NHS ad for an anaesthetist:

NHS job vacancy ad

Please ensure the rubbish is correctly placed in the right recycling box

Across the pond, the National Review has also picked up on it, with Corner blogger John Derbyshire saying it’s an example of a “newspaper editor’s worst nightmare…that his scribbled instructions to journalists (“insert usual blather abt need 2 fix schools etc …”) might end up in the finished copy.”

It’s similar to those times when a layout artist’s “Insert text here jlkjlkj ssffssd kljllkj” instruction boxes appear in the national papers: similar, but not synonymous, since news editor’s comments often betray a particular feeling on the writer’s part.

Certainly, we all know what the writer of the NHS ad thought about the “usual rubbish” regarding equal opportunities that are de rigueur in public service job ads. Not that he or she was necessarily against equal opportunities, just that, with that wise native intelligence of the average Brit, they had long realised it was a foolish, time-wasting and expensive parroting of meaningless platitudes necessary purely because politicians have decreed it so.

Fellow National Review blogger Richard Brookhiser picked up the baton and mentioned his fave example from the Boston Globe, which I’d not been aware of.

On Saturday, March 15, 1980, following a speech on the economy by President Jimmy Carter, the Globe headlined an editorial:

Boston Globe More Mush from the Wimp

Court rules “headlines are literary works”

July 28, 2011 4 comments

In a judgment which will warm every sub’s cockles, the Court of Appeal yesterday confirmed an earlier ruling that headlines are “separate literary works” that, for purposes of copyright etc, should be considered independent of the story they sit on.

The court threw out an appeal by news parasite Meltwater, which provided a paid-for headline-scraping service to clients in the PR industry. The original action against the company had been brought by all the main Fleet Street newspaper groups, except News International, under the aegis of the Newspaper Licensing Agency, who successfully argued last year that Meltwater required a Web Database Licence (WDL) to aggregate and sell the list of  spider-grabbed headlines, and that its customers required a Web End User Licence (WEUL) to use that information for commercial purposes.

Meltwater and the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA), a conglomeration of Meltwater subscribers, appealed against the original ruling by Proudman J. Meltwater at first contended it did not need a WDL to carry on its business, though it later relented and got one. One of the conditions of the WDL requires that the holding company’s customers each need a WEUL. The PRCA argued that no, they didn’t. Mrs Justice Proudman found against them, saying:

“The headlines are often striking and substantial, both in terms of content and in terms of length.   They are not usually written by the journalists who write the underlying articles but by editorial staff whose specific functions include the composition of headlines.  The ability to compose a headline is a valuable and discrete skill and courses exist to teach it. Headlines require skill in order to fulfil the objective of capturing the reader’s attention and inducing them to read the article. Thus a headline frequently has some emotional or sentimental ‘hook’, it may contain a pun, it may summarise the content of the article to which it relates. The process of final selection of a headline is separate from the selection of the article. Often a number of options will be proposed and the decision will be taken by a senior editor. Occasionally the article will be tailored to fit the headline.”

She also noted:

“…headlines involve considerable skill in devising and they are specifically designed to entice by informing the reader of the content of the article in an entertaining manner.”

These views were yesterday upheld by the Chancellor of the High Court, Sir Andrew Morritt, with Lord Justice Jackson and Lord Justice Evans. Rejecting the PRCA’s argument that Meltwater customers fell into the category of those exempt from needing a WEUL – a group exempt for purposes of criticism – they said no such exemption applied, because Meltwater made no attempt to analyse or interpret the headlines it sent out.

The copies created on the end-user’s computer are the consequence of the end-user opening the email containing Meltwater News, searching the Meltwater website or accessing the Publisher’s website by clicking on the link provided by Meltwater.

The Lord Chancellor went on to praise Proudman J’s “clear, careful and comprehensive judgment”. Hear-hear!

It’s certainly cheering to know we subs have friends in high places in the judiciary. Just wish we had more of them in the newsrooms.

The full ruling is here. Note the ruling only applies to commercial users. It doesn’t apply to us impecunious amateur bloggers.

Toryguff’s Oz subs face crack-down

May 15, 2011 1 comment
Australian police crack down on boozed-up idoits"

About time too...

There may be a lesson here: if you offshore your subbing, perhaps it’s best not to do it to a nation that “clearly has a drinking problem.”

Must tell Tim Worstall about this: I know he’s a keen collector of Telegraph Oz sub-prime subbing.

It’s all Latin to me

May 24, 2010 Leave a comment
Daily Mail webpage

"Amo, alas, amat", as Aristotle was always saying

Everyone loves a story about powers-on-high making some simple but embarrassing bureaucratic cock-up with spelling: getting a place name wrong, painting a road marking SOTP, that sort of thing. Inevitably, such stories begin: “Red-faced officials apologised…”

The pleasure is doubled if the power-on-high is a university (especially an Oxbridge one) and the cock-up is something arcane such as the declension of a noun in a dead language such as Greek or Latin because, you know, they’re suppose to know about such things.

The trouble with such stories is that they so easily turn into a “pot-kettle-black” scenario if the paper, broadcaster or website concerned is equally sloppy in its attention to detail.

Especially if a sub or web editor doesn’t know the difference between Latin and Greek…

Word of advice: if ever you write or edit such a story, check, check and check again, then check once more for good measure. And do not rely on spellcheck.

Schoolboy error

May 24, 2010 Leave a comment
From today’s TelegraphTeacher escapes prison over dumbbell attack

The old knotted sheet over the wall trick, then?

No, no, NO! Teacher evades prison, or Teacher spared prison: he did not escape.

When will subs ever learn the difference?