As newspapers continue their drive to slash costs and streamline processes, there has been a marked trend towards getting rid of sub-editors and making the journalists sub their own copy and upload it into the content management system.
A number of high-profile journalists and media commentators, such as Jeff Jarvis, have insisted this is the way to go and that editors will be given a new role as a "gentle coach".
So what really happens when sub-editors get made redundant and the hacks are left to their own devices? The Sunday Express found out recently to its cost that it was a false economy.
The memo leaked to Media Guardian sent by a senior staffer at the paper to the journalists there revealed what a disaster the decision to fire 80 sub-editors has been. And more are apparently to be laid off shortly!
I have to admit I practically wept with laughter when I read the memo yesterday. It more than backs up my assertion that subs do much more than cut copy to fit. The list of howlers, gaffes, basic spelling errors and potential legal problems arising from the daft decision to make the hacks edit their own work just proves that sub-editors are the oil that keeps the cogs running smoothly at a newspaper.
I don't have much time for the Express, but I find it depressing that any company would be prepared to publish anything so error-strewn, just to save a few quid, and trash its reputation into the bargain. If I were an Express reader, the poor quality of its copy would have me switching allegiance to another paper.
If anything, the experience at the Sunday Express should be sufficient to convince all newspapers that cutting back on sub-editors is a stupid idea. Sure, these are difficult times for the media, especially as we enter a recession and advertising revenue, which funds the press, is reduced.
I'll be interested to see whether the media commentators still think subs are an unnecessary luxury...