How Subeditor Makes the News Meaningful?



What specifically can the sub-editor do to help the newspaper convey the news in the fullest possible meaning? The extreme breadth of the duties of the copy desk reveal that he can make contributions at several points:

(i)He can at least prevent the language from getting in the way of the meaning, either because of incorrect usage or the employment of unnecessarily difficult words and sentences. English is a remarkable rich language; among its greatest riches are the many ways things can be said. The words that help crystallize meaning can be found by the skilful editor.

(ii)He can serve meaning by seeking out missing facts and overlooked angles. He can help the reader to accomplish a clear visualization of an action, for example, by supplying missing detail and sharpening hazy detail. He can discover and correct apparent inconsistencies. He can insert correc­tives between story segments to help point up their relationships.

(iii)He can find way6 to translate figures and statistics into terms of the readers' own experience; he can guard against faulty interpretation of statistical data by the reporter.

(iv) He can sharpen up meanings by using his mandate to restructure the stories he reads extensively where such drastic treatment is indicated.

That means to reassemble them into a story organisation that serves clarity of meaning. Much less attention has been paid to the role of story structure in conveying meaning than to stylistic features of writing. Newsmen have more or less standardized ways of assembling news stories and these devices have their purpose.

But what bearing does all this have on the understanding achieved by the reader-the one who reads the whole story, the one who reads some of it, or the one who reads only enough to know he wants no part of it ? There are no formulas here. The reporter is concerned with the relationship of organization to meaning, but he is usually so close to the story that it often remains for the sub­editor to build it into a more meaningful whole.

(v) He can achieve a broader range of understanding by assembling various stories into a single one whether using materials from different sources on the same subject or combining separate but related stories in such a way as to pinpoint their inter-relationships.

(vi) He can at least prevent confusion of meaning by the precision of the headline he writes for the story; he can, in fact, convey full and accurate meaning in the limited scope of the headline for the reader who sees the headline only.

(vii) He can contribute to the story's appeal for the reader by the format in which he presents it. This involves the sort of headline employed, the attention value of the position assigned to it, the aesthetic and legibility values of the type employed, etc. On all of these matters, the copy desk has virtually complete control.

(viii) He can employ make-up devices to assemble the separate stories in such a way as to help convey their inter-relation­ships.