Newsbite: Fun at The Sun and the dying art of sub-editing

There aren’t many things that make me laugh out loud (or should that be lol?) when I’m standing in the queue at Sainsbury’s.

But that changed on Saturday night when I glanced across at the rows of newspapers and started reading the headlines.

“Frisky Farage’s first class fumble with filthy film star” read the front page of The Sun – pure, unadulterated genius and a reminder of the dying art of sub-editing.

Subs used to be the backbone of newspapers but the internet, social media and pressure to be part of a constantly publishing 24-hour news cycle, where accuracy and detail are sacrificed in favour of speed, are putting the art-form in jeopardy.

And it’s only when you see something in print, that you can touch and feel and that someone has been given the time to perfect, that you remember the joy subs have given us over the years.

Some of the best headlines from The Sun include ‘Zip me up before you go go’ and ‘Super Caley go ballistic, Celtic are atrocious’ when Celtic were beaten in the cup final by underdogs Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Did you notice that I didn’t have to explain the first one, you knew the story already, and that’s the point about a good headline – you remember it and the story.

And The Sun subs are certainly creating memorable headlines and having some fun with Farage right now – ‘Ukipper and the stripper’ and ‘Farage fesses up to French Fancy’.

But that’s what they do best. The Sun is known as the subs paper. That’s not to take anything away from the journalists, it’s just the journalists work is enhanced when you’ve got a talented, humorous bench of subs behind them.

Before they pulled down the iconic, if somewhat impractical, Yorkshire Post building in Leeds, the subs desk used to separate the editorial teams from the Yorkshire Evening Post and the Yorkshire Post, which would suggest the subs were friendlier than the journalists – anyone who has worked in a newspaper will tell you differently.

One of the creations that came out of Evening Post subs was ‘Dead sheep beaten up in police probe’ – when Yorkshire’s constabulary had taken a lifeless sheep into a cell and set about it to see how far the sound travelled after they were accused of using their fists and feet on someone in their custody.

It still makes me chuckle now.

So, thank you to the subs who’ve made me and many others laugh, whose command of the English language, alliteration and being succinct have provided a social record of our culture, the silly things we do, the even sillier things people in the public eye, who should know better, do, and our capacity to laugh at ourselves and each other.

Celebrate subs by sharing your all-time favourite headline with us on Twitter @GLRPR.

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