Avoid the sub-standard by having subbing standards

Phil Minett explains why his team strives for editorial quality.


A newspaper group for which I once worked used to have a notice pinned up in every newsroom and printworks bearing the legend: ‘Accuracy above all else.’

At the time, ‘new technology’ (yes, I’m that old) was filtering down to the provincial press and my employers decided to take their first tentative steps into this brave new world.

Unfortunately for them, the technological route they chose proved to be something of a blind alley – definitely more Betamax than VHS – and the result was disastrous; every publication became riddled with errors and these once well-respected community newspapers became a laughing stock.

One morning, I arrived at work to find the company mantra had been altered by some wag (does anyone but me use that word any more?) to read: ‘AKRUSY ABUV AL ELS.’

Fast-forward a few years and a similar situation arose at a much bigger publication where I found myself working.

Farther along the ‘new technology’ road, a similar scenario unfolded and, overnight – much to the annoyance of the management – the company slogan ‘The reader is king’, morphed into ‘The rooder is kong’.

On both occasions, the papers’ circulations suffered and it took a long time for either to lose the ‘local rag’ tag.

This isn’t meant to be a Victor Meldrew-style rant about how much better it was in the ‘good old days’ or a Luddite’s view of technology (although several younger colleagues might tell you I fit into both categories). Rather, it is meant to show that content riddled with errors can leave a long-lasting impression on readers – whether in print or online.

Reputations are hard to build but easy to lose. That’s why, at CPL, we uphold the journalistic values of the firm’s founders – both national newspapermen – and pride ourselves on the high standard of the content we create.

We continue to sub-edit and proofread all the content that crosses our desks because we understand that everyone we work for needs to be taken seriously. No-one can build a reputation for excellence, in whatever field, if the content put out under their name is riddled with factual and grammatical errors.

That’s not to say we don’t use the best of technology too. We do. We’ve recently adopted a web-based proofing system to streamline the approvals process for all our clients – whether that is for a single piece of copy, a complete marketing strategy, an animation or a print magazine.

Whatever the job, we strive for  ‘accuracy above all else’.

Phil Minett
is senior associate - editorial
at CPL

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