THE VIEW FROM HERE I HAVE absolutely no idea what students learn on those courses in "media studies" but I suspect it is nothing of any use. And I’m sure they are never taught about the scary world of the sub-editors’ desk.
This is a dark realm surrounded by a thicket of grammatical rules and inhabited by men and women who sit hunched over their work, lips pursed and brows furrowed as they cast merciless judgment upon the miserable offerings of the humble hack.
It is the mission of the sub-editor to cast into outer darkness any lurking split infinitive, any factual inaccuracy, any redundant comma or semantic blunder.
Over-elaborate or grandiose writing particularly upsets them. They have the power to shred the 2,000-word, meticulously honed work of the hapless journalist into a pile of confetti and replace it with a brusque two-sentence item. Shakespeare wouldn’t have lasted five minutes under the lash of the subs’ desk.
"To be or not to be?" the sub-editor would have demanded. "It’s a straight yes or no question, isn’t it? What’s with all this burbling on, Mr S? Is there much more of this rubbish?"
They have the forensic eye of a high-court judge, their nostrils quivering at the merest whiff of libel.
"Here, Mr S, you can’t have Hamlet saying his mum is 'stewed in corruption.’ She’ll be down on us like a ton of bricks. Best be on the safe side and take out the whole speech."
I bet they never teach students of media studies the prime rule of journalism, which is to be very, very nice to sub-editors. Alienate them at your peril, or you will find the word "now" has been mysteriously changed into "not", making complete nonsense of your brilliant piece. Should new recruit Sally Fitch displease the subs, the 'a’ and "F" in her name will immediately appear on her by-line as 'i’ and 'B’.
Obviously, my own high principles preclude me from any display of insincerity, however expedient, and I would thus not dream of compromising my integrity by blatant flattery of our sub-editors’ team at the CP.
When I say they are the very epitome of genius and omniscience, unerring in their judgment and stylistically supreme, I merely speak the truth.
(The same applies to our editor and I do hope he enjoys the chocolates.)
How, then, to explain a couple of recent lapses in this column, first in a caption and then in a headline? The caption was pounced upon by CP correspondent A. Rowe, who was offended by "compared to" instead of "compared with."
It’s the Shakespeare thing again, I’m afraid. "Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?" would never have got past any of our sub-editors (and A. Rowe would have given the Bard a right dressing-down.)
So what happened here? And how did last week’s headline contain a reference to "devine rights"? Surely our subs, who always write such marvellous captions and headlines, could not have been responsible?
Of course not. Another thing they don’t learn in media studies is a gremlin lives under the sub-editors’ desk. And whenever a journalist casts aspersions on another person’s literacy skills, out it pops with hubristic glee.
In my case, I was rash enough to snigger at the appearance of the "Lord left Tenant" in Ryde’s jubilee brochure.
Sub-editors are bold as well as bright but even they cannot defy the gremlin. It is highly likely this one is the evil henchman of the Lord left Tenant.
"Compared to" and "devine rights" are just the start of it. Henceforth, there will be misplaced apostrophes and hanging prepositions in abundance.
And a by-line in which I am ousted by Chargrot Hogbin.
And now for a bit more barracking
CLLR Vanessa Churchman has slammed a proposed design for four flats in Market Street, Ventnor, telling the planning committee they were "like the Chelsea Barracks".Exactly which Chelsea Barracks does she have in mind? There hasn’t been a Chelsea Barracks anywhere since 2008, when its troops transferred to the Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich.
Before that, it consisted of a series of huge concrete tower blocks, which in no way resembled the Market Street development. They’ve been knocked down now, anyway, and the whole place is a dusty heap of nothingness.
Perhaps Cllr Churchman was thinking of Prince Charles’s opposition to the development of the site by Qatari Diar and thought she’d get in on current craze for all things royal. But the developers weren’t ever going to build a barracks and what they proposed wasn’t a bit like the Ventnor plan.
Actually, I think the Ventnor flats look rather nice. But then what would I know? Probably best to ask somebody who can’t tell a demolished tower block from a drawing of two-storey building.