Module JT070


Module author

Allan Lee

AUT University
New Zealand

Learning objectives

After you have completed this module, you will be able to:

  • Explain the roles and responsibilities of editors in the newsroom, including how copy editors select and edit news stories;
  • Discuss what news value principles are and how they help explain why certain events or issues are newsworthy;
  • Analyze and explain how content is edited to appeal to a target audience;
  • Edit news texts for accuracy, sense, logical structure and balance;
  • Edit news texts for clarity, fluency and brevity;
  • Identify and correct errors in grammar, punctuation and style commonly found in news texts;
  • Discuss the role of the lead paragraph in clarifying the angle in a news story, and describe options such as the ‘summary lead' and the ‘delayed lead';
  • Discuss the role of pictures in news story telling and explain the technical requirements of publishable news pictures;
  • Select and edit appropriate news pictures and write effective cutlines for publication online and in print.

Chapter 1: Editors and the newsroom
1.1 The newsroom
1.2 Editor roles
1.3 Copy editing
1.4 The editor within

Chapter 2:  How editors select the news
2.1 Defining news
2.2 Galtung and Ruge's news values
2.3 Modern news values
2.4 Choosing news for a target audience

Chapter 3: Editing a news story
3.1 Accuracy and structural integrity
3.3 Impartiality and balance
3.3 Editing for clarity, fluency, and brevity
3.4 Editing direct and indirect quotes

Chapter 4: Grammar, punctuation, and house style
4.1 Getting the basics right
4.2 Editing grammar
4.3 Precise punctuation
4.4 House style

Chapter 5: Editing the story lead
5.1 Why a good lead is highly prized in a newsroom
5.2 Story angles and summary leads
5.3 Summarizing the who, what, where, when, why and how
5.4 Achieving brevity in a lead
5.5 Delayed leads and leads that need attribution

Chapter 6: Pictures: illustrating the news
6.1 The importance of pictures
6.2 Picture editing
6.4 Writing cutlines
6.5 Ethical photo editing

Study points 2
Preview Sub-Editing


Why Open School of Journalism believes that sub-editing is an important skill for journalists

Today, sub-editing is one of the fastest growing fields in the journalism industry. Sub-editors or Subs, working under a chief editor's discretion, ensure quality control of a submission before it is ready for public display.

Considered by many to be the backbone of journalism and media industry, Sub-editors are responsible for checking submissions for correct use of grammar, syntax and tone. They also ensure that article's themes are consistent with the vision of the media hub to which the work has been submitted. Subs are the last line of defense against factual errors within the articles, safeguarding the client, and the writer, against liability.

This sub-editing module prepares students to be effective and generative team members in the rapidly-evolving global media industry. Sub-editors act as a liaison between between writers and the full production team. They are utilized to ensure that original submissions are of the highest caliber, before the material reaches the consumer public.


Overview of the module

This module in sub-editing is divided into six sections to provide our students a firm grasp of the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in this growing field.

Editors and the newsroom

In this section, we take a look into the sub-editors primary environment, the newsroom. Within the newsroom, information for submissions is gathered and articles are written, under the guidance of the Chief editor. This section of the module introduces students to the central duties involved in this journalistic environment.

Students are introduced to the newsroom, the central hub where information is gathered and news articles are written under the skilled, objective eye of the editor. This section includes information related to newsroom work flow and processes. Students will also get an overview of general journalistic and editing practices.

The editor is in charge of the process of journalism. Editors are responsible for taking into account the gathered information deciding the directions that the articles are to take. The module will offer a detailed outline of roles and responsibilities for editors and sub-editors.

Copy editing ensuring that the written text of a given article is accurate, flows well and is consistent with the media outlet's journalistic vision. In this module, students will actively learn the craft of editing text.

In this module, students will learn read text with a critical eye, and modify it as needed to achieve the desired result.

How editors select the news

Students will learn how imperative it is for editors be in-tune with a variety of shifting factors as they select news topics. Factors to be evaluated include: the target market, its demographic variables and the unique elements of the event, or topic, itself. In the following sections, students will explore what exactly makes the news, "newsworthy".

Defining news: The definition of what is news is more than 'a report of recent events.' In this section, students will explore the scope in which editors determine what makes an event "newsworthy."

Galtung and Ruge's news values: In this section, student will analyse the research of Johan Galtung and Marie Holmboe Ruge. They will the common factors Galtung and Ruge's identified in all newsworthy reports. Students be invited to consider the comprehensive list of news values that they developed and its impact today.

Modern news values: In this section, students will be asked to evaluate incoming reports under the "modern news values" which have been espoused by the newspaper industry itself.

Choosing news for a target audience: Different newspapers serve different communities. In this section, students will concentrate on how to determine the newsworthy stories that would be of common interest in the demographics served by the hiring media source.

Editing a news story

Within this chapter, students immerse themselves process and technique for effective copy-editing. They will take a comprehensive look at differing texts and learn the techniques needed to draw out the best language out of each line of their articles.

Accuracy and structural integrity: The accuracy and structural integrity is paramount when reporting a news story. Legal and financial stakes are the high, when in producing a news article. To publish an article which is inaccurate, is to potentially commit libel against an individual or group. In this section, students will learn how to safeguard the accuracy of their stories.

Impartiality and balance: When presenting a story, editors must rise above their personal perspective to report events. Students will learn how to be aware of personal bias, maintain impartiality of their perspective. This is of particular importance when writing about controversial issues.

Editing for clarity, fluency, and brevity: In this section, students will be taught how to edit the presented work to create the best, most economical, and clear text.

Editing direct and indirect quotes: Quotes represent a unique challenge to aspiring sub-editors. Misquotes can impact the credibility of an author or source. A skilled editor must decided paraphrase or not to paraphrase. Learning proper use of direct and indirect quotes will be addressed with the goal of acheiving both clarity and brevity.

Grammar, punctuation, and house style

Students will learn that without the use of proper grammar, articles will appear sloppy. Utilization of correct grammar and punctuation is the foundation for strong copy-writing.

Getting the basics right: Students will increase their grammatical proficiency through review and practice.

diting grammar: In this section, students will focus specific elements of strong journalistic writing. For example, how sentence structure can impact the flow, and tone, of articles.

Precise punctuation: The statement, "Let's eat kids" could generate angry letters to the Chief Editor by the omission of a comma. In this section, students will review and practice accurate, modern punctuation. Hopefully, their efforts will prevent tragedies like this paragraph's opening sentence.

House style: It is important for editors to understand the personality and interests of their target readers. In this section, students will learn strategies for editing a newspaper that serve the interest of its target demographic well.

Editing the story lead

Good leads begin stories. Bad leads can finish them. The first few lines of a news story determine its fate with the readership. Without a strong lead, a story may lose the attention of its audience. In this section, students are challenged to edit and write strong leads for the assigned articles.

Why a good lead is highly prized in a newsroom: No matter how exceptional the subject matter may be, without a great lead, the article will remain unread. Students will learn techniques to grab their audience in the opening line of the articles they edit.

Story angles and summary leads: A succinct opening line imparts to the reader 'the who, what, when, where, why and how' to the reader in a eye-catching burst of text. It also sets the trajectory that an article will follow. This is called the story's angle. In this section, the learner utilize story angles to discover which ones may attract and which ones may repel your audience.

Summarizing the who, what, where, when, why and how: You have one line to tell your audience what your story is all about, the rest is just the details. In ta rapid-pace world, readers need a visual grab to know what they are getting into with an article.

Achieving brevity in a lead: Speed and an exceptional hook is the essence of every lead. Students will discover that effective editors must master this concept.

Delayed leads and leads that need attribution: Many of the best leads do not tell your audience the purpose of your article, directly. In this section, students will learn how to draw readers in with less obvious leads.

Pictures: Illustrating the news

It has been said that, "A picture is worth a thousand words." This section of the module focuses on merging dynamic imagery with quick captions to draw readers' interest.

The importance of pictures: According to statisics, today's articles have a few seconds to capture the media consumer's attention. Students will learn how a great picture increases readership.

Picture editing: Photo editing is an essential part of the story-telling process for journalists making an impact. In this section,the student will learn to crop, enhance, and size photos to utilize images effectively and dynamically.

Writing cutlines: Photo captions are the succinct text that captures the essence of an image. In this section, students will learn how to effectively describe a photo within a publication.

Ethical photo editing: In this module, students will learn about the strict ethical framework in which photojournalism must adhere to project honest and impartial pictures.