Sub editing and search engine optimisation for magazines

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Lecture on sub editing for magazines, with a range of activities and information on subbing for SEO

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Sub editing and search engine optimisation for magazines

  1. 1. Paul Bradshaw Senior Lecturer, Online Journalism, Magazines and New Media, School of Media, Birmingham City University, UK (mediacourses.com) Blogger, Online Journalism Blog Sub editing and SEO for magazines
  2. 2. Golden rules <ul><li>Check for legals </li></ul><ul><li>Draw the reader in </li></ul><ul><li>On the web: think about how you’d search </li></ul>
  3. 3. Why learn to sub? <ul><li>Professional presentation of your own work </li></ul><ul><li>Subs being laid off – but everyone expected to sub </li></ul><ul><li>Search engine optimisation becoming key skill </li></ul>
  4. 4. Bradshaw’s Impossible Spelling & Grammar Test! <ul><li>14 questions, 25 points – the point is to learn, not to prove your ability! </li></ul>
  5. 5. Bradshaw’s Impossible Spelling & Grammar Test! <ul><li>Minuscule </li></ul><ul><li>They’re living in their house over there (3) </li></ul><ul><li>Blond man </li></ul><ul><li>It’s got its tail caught in its teeth (3) </li></ul><ul><li>She was definitely humorous (2) </li></ul><ul><li>The burglar stole some jewellery (2) </li></ul><ul><li>manoeuvre </li></ul><ul><li>I believed him – but he deceived me (2) </li></ul><ul><li>gauge </li></ul><ul><li>He had a driving licence – and he was licensed to kill (2) (same applies to advice and advise, practice and practise) </li></ul><ul><li>liaise </li></ul><ul><li>He had one tomato and two potatoes (2) </li></ul><ul><li>The principal thing was not to forget your principles </li></ul><ul><li>She sat on the Portaloo drinking from a Thermos (2) (these are trademarks and so should be capitalised) </li></ul>
  6. 6. What a sub (sub-editor) does <ul><li>Varies wildly – </li></ul><ul><li>Some newspaper subs control layout of page, placement, type size, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Others focus on proofing, facts, legals, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Headlines, captions, subheadings, bylines, standfirsts, and pullquotes </li></ul><ul><li>Publication style </li></ul><ul><li>Repurposes copy from PA etc. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Subbing – the Intro <ul><li>Is it snappy? </li></ul><ul><li>Does it grab the reader? </li></ul><ul><li>Does it make sense? (read with new eyes) </li></ul><ul><li>Is it up-to-date? </li></ul><ul><li>Is it a readable length? </li></ul>
  8. 8. Subbing – story structure <ul><li>Does the story back up the intro? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the story unfold naturally? </li></ul><ul><li>Are there any obvious gaps? </li></ul><ul><li>Are quotes used sensibly? </li></ul><ul><li>Check key facts aren’t left until last </li></ul>
  9. 9. Subbing – language <ul><li>Is the story in house style? </li></ul><ul><li>Cut out waffle/clichés </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t overload the story </li></ul>
  10. 10. Subbing – quotes <ul><li>Are they worth using? </li></ul><ul><li>Is it obvious who said what? </li></ul><ul><li>Are they in readable chunks? </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t jump around too much </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t alter without a good reason </li></ul>
  11. 11. Subbing – key facts <ul><li>Name </li></ul><ul><li>Age </li></ul><ul><li>Address </li></ul><ul><li>Job </li></ul><ul><li>Who/why/what/where/when/how </li></ul><ul><li>Background – don’t assume anything </li></ul>
  12. 12. Subbing – checking up <ul><li>News editor/reporter </li></ul><ul><li>Cuttings files </li></ul><ul><li>Newspapers on file </li></ul><ul><li>Reference books </li></ul><ul><li>NOT Wikipedia – source of many errors, so Google ‘Wikipedia mistake + name of person’ </li></ul>
  13. 13. Subbing – checklist <ul><li>Check it’s necessary – can you add or adjust? </li></ul><ul><li>Check facts against original </li></ul><ul><li>Check spelling – esp. names </li></ul><ul><li>Have quotes been reproduced accurately or paraphrased fairly? </li></ul><ul><li>Has house style been followed? </li></ul>
  14. 14. Subbing – checklist <ul><li>Has the best, most unusual or personalized angle gone into the intro? </li></ul><ul><li>Are handwritten bits on proofs readable? </li></ul><ul><li>Is copy marked up correctly? </li></ul><ul><li>Have you kept to the word or paragraph count? </li></ul><ul><li>Is EVERYTHING totally clear? </li></ul>
  15. 15. Headlines <ul><li>Tell and sell the story </li></ul><ul><li>Cliché free (bid, rap, quiz, probe, dash) </li></ul>
  16. 16. Cliché headline generator
  17. 17. The classic headline: Man bites dog <ul><li>Short words </li></ul><ul><li>O bjects, not concepts </li></ul><ul><li>Active verb ( is – not ‘to be’) </li></ul><ul><li>Present tense (bites, not bit) </li></ul><ul><li>Tells the story </li></ul><ul><li>Has immediacy and impact </li></ul>
  18. 18. What to focus on <ul><li>Names: personalise where possible </li></ul><ul><li>Quotes: select key point </li></ul><ul><li>Look ahead: report news, not history </li></ul><ul><li>Main interest: don’t be obscure </li></ul><ul><li>Off-beat: unusual angle, especially in features </li></ul><ul><li>Word play: don’t be too clever </li></ul><ul><li>Puns: go easy </li></ul>
  19. 19. Do something now <ul><li>You should have a sheet of photocopied ‘In Brief’ stories. Write a headline – or more - for each one. Pick out the best. See what other people have come up with . </li></ul>
  20. 20. Captions <ul><li>Explain photos (don’t describe them!) </li></ul><ul><li>Lure readers </li></ul><ul><li>Add personality (humour, creativity) </li></ul><ul><li>Relate to picture, don’t confuse with. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Consistency of placement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Proximity to pic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Underneath if possible </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Caption writing tips <ul><li>Brainstorm words associated with the imagery </li></ul><ul><li>Think of common phrases that feature one of those words </li></ul><ul><li>E.g. for an image of some eye make-up to go with an article on fashion: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t just retell the story – relate it </li></ul><ul><li>Watch your tenses </li></ul>
  22. 22. Do something now <ul><li>Find some images for one of these stories (think laterally, not literally): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>An article about pig farmers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Piece about punk music </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Piece about Asian fashion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Celebrity chefs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Computer hackers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Male grooming </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Diet fads </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Try PAPhotos, Mirrorpix, Corbis, other image libraries </li></ul><ul><li>Brainstorm words and phrases around image </li></ul><ul><li>Use those to come up with captions </li></ul>
  23. 23. Subbing for the web: SEO <ul><li>Headlines and subheadings crucial to how search engines ‘rank’ you for particular searches </li></ul><ul><li>Users scan-read for relevancy </li></ul><ul><li>Puns and clever headlines don’t work </li></ul><ul><li>Include key words, e.g. names, places </li></ul><ul><li>E.g. ‘Kerry Katona’s GMTV disaster’ </li></ul>
  24. 24. Do something now <ul><li>Take your ‘In Brief’ headlines and rewrite for the web </li></ul>
  25. 25. Paul Bradshaw Senior Lecturer, Online Journalism, Magazines and New Media, School of Media, Birmingham City University, UK (mediacourses.com) Blogger, Online Journalism Blog [email_address]

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