Wednesday, 30 July 2008
Joanna Duckworth ...
Sub-editing is a noble profession. It is also a thankless one - particularly when your writers call you a "useless cunt".
There was a sharp intake of breath when your e-mail hit the inbox of subs throughout the industry this week - that was after we'd stopped laughing. Not that we didn't think you had a point. Yes, tinkering with copy just for the sake of it and without consultation is wrong. It is disrespectful and arrogant. And we can see why you'd be furious at the loss even of an indefinite article.
There is nothing more irritating than a sub-editor who thinks they know better than a writer, particularly one who cares deeply about his work. But did you really have to be so rude?
Laura Barton stated in Friday's Guardian that there's "something of a long-standing tension between writers and sub-editors". Do you wonder why? Contrary to your belief, we don't "believe we know best when we know fuck all".
If you could only see the state of some of the raw copy we have to knock into shape. It's badly structured, poorly spelt, appallingly punctuated, lazily researched. We're not saying your writing falls into that category - on the contrary, your journalism is highly accomplished. Never having worked on your copy, we can only take your word for it that it is beyond improvement in its pre-published state. Strange as it may seem, many writers do not possess your grasp of language; indeed it is sometimes difficult to believe that English is their mother tongue, and they don't give a damn about what they produce because they know that a good, often highly educated sub-editor will correct it, check it and turn it into readable prose.
None of this, however, can excuse your nasty, bullying, "know your place, you insignificant little fuckwit" e-mail. Yes, it's funny, in a way that pieces that use "fuck", "shit" and "cunt" so liberally often can be, but, please - someone made a mistake. They surely had no intention of sabotaging your deathless prose. So you don't like what happened to your piece - have a word with your editor. The hapless sub will no doubt already have been soundly thrashed and had their dictionary privileges removed.
Some years ago, a colleague of ours had a T-shirt printed up with the legend "xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxx is a cunt" on the front, which he wore every week when having to deal with the writer to whom it referred, because he, like you, became so disproportionately abusive when his use of language was questioned. We'd hate that to happen to you, because you can actually write, and having "Giles Coren is a sanctimonious little twat who needs to get over himself" could be quite costly in T-shirt lettering. Subs are no more infallible than writers. So, let's all try a little mutual respect, shall we?
All the best,
Mia Aimaro Ogden
Senior sub-editors, The Sunday Times
This is a genuine email from Sunday Times columnist Giles Coren to the newspaper's sub-editing team.
His rant tells us everything we need to know about him.
I am mightily pissed off. I have addressed this to Owen, Amanda and Ben because I don't know who i am supposed to be pissed off with (i'm assuming owen, but i filed to amanda and ben so it's only fair), and also to Tony, who wasn't here - if he had been I'm guessing it wouldn't have happened.
I don't really like people tinkering with my copy for the sake of tinkering. I do not enjoy the suggestion that you have a better ear or eye for how I want my words to read than I do. Owen, we discussed your turning three of my long sentences into six short ones in a single piece, and how that wasn't going to happen anymore, so I'm really hoping it wasn't you that fucked up my review on saturday.
It was the final sentence. Final sentences are very, very important. A piece builds to them, they are the little jingle that the reader takes with him into the weekend.
I wrote: "I can't think of a nicer place to sit this spring over a glass of rosé and watch the boys and girls in the street outside smiling gaily to each other, and wondering where to go for a nosh."
It appeared as: "I can't think of a nicer place to sit this spring over a glass of rosé and watch the boys and girls in the street outside smiling gaily to each other, and wondering where to go for nosh."
There is no length issue. This is someone thinking "I'll just remove this indefinite article because Coren is an illiterate cunt and i know best".
Well, you fucking don't.
This was shit, shit sub-editing for three reasons.
1) 'Nosh', as I'm sure you fluent Yiddish speakers know, is a noun formed from a bastardisation of the German 'naschen'. It is a verb, and can be construed into two distinct nouns. One, 'nosh', means simply 'food'. You have decided that this is what i meant and removed the 'a'. I am insulted enough that you think you have a better ear for English than me. But a better ear for Yiddish? I doubt it. Because the other noun, 'nosh' means "a session of eating" - in this sense you might think of its dual valency as being similar to that of 'scoff'. you can go for a scoff. or you can buy some scoff. the sentence you left me with is shit, and is not what i meant. Why would you change a sentnece aso that it meant something i didn't mean? I don't know, but you risk doing it every time you change something. And the way you avoid this kind of fuck up is by not changing a word of my copy without asking me, okay? it's easy. Not. A. Word. Ever.
2) I will now explain why your error is even more shit than it looks. You see, i was making a joke. I do that sometimes. I have set up the street as "sexually-charged". I have described the shenanigans across the road at G.A.Y.. I have used the word 'gaily' as a gentle nudge. And "looking for a nosh" has a secondary meaning of looking for a blowjob. Not specifically gay, for this is soho, and there are plenty of girls there who take money for noshing boys. "looking for nosh" does not have that ambiguity. the joke is gone. I only wrote that sodding paragraph to make that joke. And you've fucking stripped it out like a pissed Irish plasterer restoring a renaissance fresco and thinking jesus looks shit with a bear so plastering over it. You might as well have removed the whole paragraph. I mean, fucking christ, don't you read the copy?
3) And worst of all. Dumbest, deafest, shittest of all, you have removed the unstressed 'a' so that the stress that should have fallen on "nosh" is lost, and my piece ends on an unstressed syllable. When you're winding up a piece of prose, metre is crucial. Can't you hear? Can't you hear that it is wrong? It's not fucking rocket science. It's fucking pre-GCSE scansion. I have written 350 restaurant reviews for The Times and i have never ended on an unstressed syllable. Fuck. fuck, fuck, fuck.
I am sorry if this looks petty (last time i mailed a Times sub about the change of a single word i got in all sorts of trouble) but i care deeply about my work and i hate to have it fucked up by shit subbing. I have been away, you've been subbing joe and hugo and maybe they just file and fuck off and think "hey ho, it's tomorrow's fish and chips" - well, not me. I woke up at three in the morning on sunday and fucking lay there, furious, for two hours. weird, maybe. but that's how it is.
It strips me of all confidence in writing for the magazine. No exaggeration. i've got a review to write this morning and i really don't feel like doing it, for fear that some nuance is going to be removed from the final line, the pay-off, and i'm going to have another weekend ruined for me.
I've been writing for The Times for 15 years and i have never asked this before - i have never asked it of anyone i have written for - but I must insist, from now on, that i am sent a proof of every review i do, in pdf format, so i can check it for fuck-ups. and i must be sent it in good time in case changes are needed. It is the only way i can carry on in the job.
And, just out of interest, I'd like whoever made that change to email me and tell me why. Tell me the exact reasoning which led you to remove that word from my copy.
Sorry to go on. Anger, real steaming fucking anger can make a man verbose.
All the best
Tuesday, 29 July 2008
Saturday, 26 July 2008
Scuffles broke out in Beijing as tickets for the Olympics were released to thousands of fans who had queued for two days.
WE'RE NOT BI-KEENI
Eight out of 10 women feel too self conscious to wear a bikini this summer with most fearing that they look too fat.
Scotland could soon be invaded by Russians - after tourism bosses at VisitScotland launched a Russian website to attract tourists and businessmen.
Manchester United are set to break the British transfer record by paying £35m to seal a permanent deal for Carlos Tevez before the start of the new season. (The Independent, The Times)
Chelsea will pay Real Madrid £35m for Robinho, who is 'desperate' to move to Stamford Bridge and has already agreed terms on a five-year deal with the Blues. (The Independent)
Everton will use the proceeds from the impending £10.5m sale of Andy Johnson to Fulham to fund a bid for Sporting Lisbon striker Joao Moutinho. (Daily Express)
Portsmouth have beaten Sunderland in the race to sign Tottenham defender Younes Kaboul. (The Sun)
Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor is set to stay with the club despite continued interest from Barcelona. (Daily Express)
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez hopes to sign Tottenham striker Robbie Keane in time for him to face Rangers on 2 August. (The Sun)
Liverpool will bid for Valencia winger David Silva if they fail to land Aston Villa midfielder Gareth Barry. (The Sun)
Real Madrid are preparing a £31.5m bid for Valencia striker David Villa but the player's agent says he would be interested in a move to Tottenham. (The Guardian)
Michael Owen has warned Newcastle he will leave on a free transfer at the end of the season unless they improve their contract offer. (The Guardian)
Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp will use the £11m from the sale of Sulley Muntari to Inter to fund bids for Chelsea's Shaun Wright-Phillips and Reading's Nicky Shorey. (The Guardian)
Rangers' hopes of signing Pedro Mendes from Portsmouth have been hit by Pompey's sale of Muntari - and because they are skint. (Daily Record)
Fulham have bid £4m for Torino's Australian international midfielder Vincenzo Grella. (The Independent)
Thursday, 24 July 2008
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Formula One boss Max Mosley is "delighted" with his victory in a privacy case against a tabloid newspaper over what he described as a consensual S&M party.
Mr Mosley was awarded £60,000 damages after the News of the World claimed he took part in a "sick Nazi orgy".
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One in seven 18-to-30 year olds will go on hols this year just to seek sex, a survey reveals.
Gun-toting robbers tied up a family to steal their rare stamp collection - worth £400,000 - from a house in Torquay, Devon.
HEADS, YOU LOSE
Brits have a billion headaches a year, 20 per cent up in a decade, due to PC use - but 245million are hangovers, a study reveals.
Saturday, 19 July 2008
Secretary Monica Florea did not realise "erotic massage" was in her job contract - until she found her boss naked on her desk in Sibiu, Romania.
A woman accidentally flushed £700 down the loo - but workers fished it out of a drain in Oldenzaal, Netherlands.
JIM'LL MIX IT
Two dozen men called Jim Smith will attend a Jim Smith Society Festival in Pittsburgh, US.
Named after Paul Hudson, who was writing about alligators when, having used up "reptiles", he resorted to "the knobbly monsters".
Here are some classic funny newspaper knobbly monsters ..
Gordon Ramsay: The Michelin-starred stove ace
Darth Vader: The heavy-breathing turncoat Jedi
McDonald's: The haven of burger addicts
Chelsea are set to sign AC Milan's world player-of-the- year Kaka for a world-record fee of £79.2m. (The Guardian)
New Chelsea midfielder Deco has pleaded with Frank Lampard to stay at the club to help them win the Champions League. (Various)
But Lampard appears to be on his way to Inter Milan after the Italian side revealed they have agreed terms with the England midfielder. (Various)
Didier Drogba also appears to be on his way out of Stamford Bridge after Barcelona made an enquiry for the striker. (Daily Star)
Sunderland have had a £23m bid for Younes Kaboul, Pascal Chimbonda, Steed Malbranque and Teemu Tainio accepted by Tottenham. (Various)
However, the deal could be jeopardised after Kaboul's agent said his client would not join Sunderland "even if there was an earthquake". (Various)
Chimbonda also looks set to snub the Black Cats in favour of a move to either Newcastle or Everton. (Daily Mail)
Gareth Barry has reaffirmed his desire to quit Aston Villa and join Liverpool. (Daily Mirror)
Aston Villa expect to sign Blackburn goalkeeper Brad Friedel next week as Rovers boss Paul Ince faces a tough task keeping hold of his players. (The Sun)
Celtic target Vitorino Antunes has opted to move to Lecce from Roma on loan. (Daily Express)
Veteran Celtic defender Steven Pressley has joined Doncaster on trial. (Daily Express)
Celtic have taken 17-year-old Lecce goalkeeper Daniele Giordano on trial. (Daily Express)
Wednesday, 16 July 2008
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Saturday, 12 July 2008
BURGER AND FRY
A restaurant is selling a burger so spicy that diners have to wear rubber gloves to eat it in Queensland, Australia.
WINE WINE WINE CALL
A drunk ran into a fire station and joined an unwitting crew as they answered an emergency in Suedhessen, Germany.
Beaches at Martha's Vineyard, the US resort where Jaws was filmed, were shut after a Great White Shark was spotted.
Manchester United have bid £20m for Spurs striker Dimitar Berbatov and hope to tie up a deal within a week. (Various)
Arsenal have made an 11th-hour bid to hijack Liverpool's protracted move for Aston Villa captain Gareth Barry. (Various)
Sir Alex Ferguson has ordered Cristiano Ronaldo to return to Old Trafford in two weeks to finally decide on his future. (Daily Mirror)
Frank Lampard must stay at Chelsea for another season after owner Roman Abramovich refused to sell to Inter Milan and former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho. (Daily Express)
Newly-promoted West Brom and Hull are locked in a battle to sign Liverpool goalkeeper Scott Carson. (Daily Mail)
Aston Villa are set to finally sign American keeper Brad Guzan from Chivas. (The Sun)
Sunderland are in talks with Steaua Bucharest's giant Romania defender Dorin Goian and hope to beat Manchester City, Newcastle and Aston Villa to a £2.5m deal. (Daily Mirror)
Russia's Euro 2008 star Andrei Arshavin is pinning his hopes on a move to Arsenal amid fears he is being priced out of a move by Zenit St Petersburg. (Daily Mirror)
Liverpool will use funds from the sale of Peter Crouch, Danny Guthrie and the imminent departure of Scott Carson to try and raise funds to buy Spurs striker Robbie Keane. (The Times)
Portsmouth will press ahead with plans to sign Shaun Wright-Phillips from Chelsea
Rangers boss Walter Smiths says they cannot afford Fulham's £4m asking price for Steve Davis as Wigan join Blackburn as rivals for his services. (Daily Record)
QPR are lining up a shock bid for Real Madrid star Michel Salgado. (The Sun)
Wednesday, 9 July 2008
Saturday, 5 July 2008
Bride Michelle Williams had to thumb a lift to her wedding to Paul Smith, 27, after her Bentley limo broke down in Bilfach Bargoed, South Wales.
SUM SURPRISE ..
A report into waste by Hampshire County Council, which found the authority was squandering cash, cost £30,000.
A dad who shaved his daughter's head to stop her going clubbing was fined £500 at Laussane, Switzerland.
Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon and Manchester United chief executive David Gill will hold talks in Switzerland next week over Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo. (Spanish sports daily AS)
Roma left-back Vitorino Gabriel Antunes has welcomed the prospect of a move to Celtic, insisting: 'If something happens that allows me to come to Glasgow I would be playing for a massive club in the Champions League. (Daily Record)
Celtic are ready to slug it out with Rangers for Watford's £2m-rated Nigerian defender Danny Shittu. (The Scottish Sun)
England striker Peter Crouch will move to Portsmouth after the south coast club relented over his valuation and had a £10m bid accepted by Liverpool. (Daily Mail)
Barcelona are the favourites to land Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor for about £30m. (The Independent)
Zenit St Petersburg have told Chelsea and Barcelona they want £20m for Andrei Arshavin, not the £12m the two clubs have offered. (Daily Express)
Manchester City's hopes of signing Ronaldinho are fading fast as he is 90% certain of joining AC Milan. (Daily Express)
Blackburn have attempted to sabotage Steven Davis' move to Rangers by tabling a £3m bid for the Fulham midfielder (Daily Record)
Thursday, 3 July 2008
Olga Semynovna, 38, was arrested for making her daughter, 13, eat a packet of fags after she smoked in Minsk, Belarus.
PONG HAUL FLIGHT
A British Airways jet had to be evacuated in Belgrade after the smell of curry was mistaken for a poisonous gas attack.
Thieves risked death to snatch 100 metres of LIVE power cable worth £10,000 from a tramway at Colyton, Devon.
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