Veteran PA Group trainer Robin Thompson believes a great intro should be “incisive like a blade and tough like a mallet”, writes Lou Thomas.
Thompson reveals this in the middle of a lively session he is taking on the fine art of intro writing at the London Academy, a new day-release subbing course lasting 25 weeks.
The course is funded by the Learning and Skills Council and aims to help give reporters a great grasp of subbing, a level 4 NVQ in Journalism and a National Diploma in Newspaper Journalism. There are 12 reporters on the course, 10 of whom have come from regional newspapers within an hour and a half’s journey from London. The remaining two come from The Sun’s online team and the Methodist Recorder respectively.
The course is coordinated by Tony Johnston, head of training at PA, who said: “Sub-editing training is often taking place on the job, [though] that’s not to denigrate that as a way of acquiring new skills. I think it’s fair to say pressures on time and pressures on resources within newspapers now mean that people don’t necessarily have the time to learn in the best way.”
Johnston hopes that if this year is a success then the course won’t need to be funded by the Learning and Skills Council. He said: “If we can provide training that’s recognised by the industry then we hope we can get support from it that isn’t reliant on central funding.”
The reporters learn the whole gamut of subbing skills from news awareness, to story construction, how to grab readers’
attention with great intros, down to the nitty gritty of law – and by the end of the course constructing finished pages.
East Kent Gazette sports reporter Steve Knight believes a lot of journalism jobs out there are asking for someone with subbing and reporting skills.
Knight said: “There’s a possibility that I might become a sports editor for one of the papers in my group. It’d be a necessity to be able to sub because we’re very limited with resources in sport.
“It’s literally one person per paper, so if you haven’t got time to produce the paper it opens up a lot of doorways to have an extra qualification.”