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Echo headlines that go clang in the night

The case for sub editors and the wrath of Jeremy Vine revisited

Published on September 5th 2012.

Echo headlines that go clang in the night

Exhibit B (Pic courtesy of Mark McNulty)

IN the history of the unfortunate newspaper juxtaposition, there can be few better – or should that be worse – examples than these.

You know the sort of thing, two items placed next to each other that should NEVER, EVER be placed next to each other, with hilarious or, especially in one case here, horrible results. 

In Exhibit A, pictured below, the Liverpool Echo fell foul of just such a howler in May, after nobody spotted that a story declaring “Priest admits child sex” was sitting right alongside a picture of a young child licking an ice cream under a headline containing the words “boy” and “hot”.

Outrage, condemnation and the occasional smirk followed the gaffe of grotesque proportions.

Exhibit AExhibit A

BBC journalist and broadcaster Jeremy Vine took to Twitter to declare: “Horrendous frontpage layout from the Liverpool Echo, please never let this happen again”. Which, for Echo journos, must feel like being scolded by the headmaster. 

And now, just days after a horrific fatality in Liverpool city centre we have The Case For Sub Editors: Exhibit B (top).

The unschooled might think this a contempt of court too far, or that the alleged perpetrators of the offence had got off with a light sentence, but of course we all know the blurb underneath the splash touts a strictly musical happening and that the Echo Arena is not yet a venue for judicial proceedings.  

“It's the sort of thing that makes you wake up in a cold sweat at 3am,” said one of the scores of ex-Liverpool Echo subs, sacked in 2009,  when this latest nightmare flashed before their eyes this morning. A bit like the dream where you haven't revised for your exams. 

We all make mistakes and "there but for the grace of", etc, however being made a viral fool of can be averted.

If only the Echo was still printed at its Liverpool city centre premises and not in Oldham, it might have been possible at least to limit the damage, courtesy of a temporary halt on the presses and a hasty re-design of page one, thus preventing the blunder from being repeated and retweeted many thousands more times.

Pre 2009, the Echo was put to bed while there was still a newsroom full of people, and papers landed on desks hot off the presses, literally.

Jeremy Vine 2 

But in order to allow for road-travelling time from Greater Manchester - and to compete with the nationals by being on news-stands at dawn - the Echo now goes “off stone”, late in the evening, long after even Eno the TV weather woman has frocked off. 

These offending editions were printed far away, in the dead of the night, as whichever senior journalist on whose watch they occurred slept soundly, along with anyone else who could have cared to change it.

In a related move...

But it's not all bad news for journalism, Trinity is recruiting!

In a move perhaps dreamed up by the same highly paid Canary Wharf accountant who thought to fire all those printers and subs, TM is advertising for “mulitmedia staff” to join the Liverpool Echo, on £13k-£15k - to "gather and prepare market-focused content direct from communities". 

Er, that's what journalists do, isn't it? Wrong, that's what admin staff do. 

Said the ad: “This is a non-journalistic role but you will be working closely with journalists and you will need to be self-motivated with the flexibility to work on multiple projects and meet a variety of deadlines.” 


Of course, granting the big “J” on these new journalists', sorry, admin workers' contracts would mean NUJ chapel rights and NCTJ qualifications would come fitted as standard – handy at pay bargaining times and when those libels and defamations come dancing through your copy. 

The NUJ, understandably, isn't happy at being denied this new, young blood. Still, that won't stop all those thousands of hungry media graduates, currently working in Primark, from applying. And your car insurance will be cheaper. 

So kids, a tip: if you thought the Fourth Estate was a marker on the Echo's useful map of Merseyside shootings, good news - you're hired!

The Fourth Estate: Somewhere in HuytonThe Fourth Estate: Somewhere in Huyton

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7 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousSeptember 6th 2012.

I don't remember anyone being fired in 2009. Think everyone took voluntary redundancy with a pay off, certainly the subs. Important to be accurate, eh?

Hacked offSeptember 7th 2012.

As one of those sub editors for 25 years, I certainly didn't want to go and like the rest of my department - and the photographers - have found it extremely difficult to get work since. Are you a management lackey by any chance? You seem to talk the talk of one.

AnonymousSeptember 7th 2012.

Different point of view = management lackey? Just a working grunt, but given how hard the union fought for everyone and still does, I didn't like seeing that brushed under the carpet. No one was sacked.

Hacked offSeptember 7th 2012.

You can word this however you like anonymous but the fact is dozens of journalists were shown the door.

AnonymousSeptember 7th 2012.

Hacked off was your redundancy voluntary or not? if not you prove your point...

Bazza TurnbullSeptember 8th 2012.

I dont know what this is any more but its not journalism. Yesterday, the county cricket champions Lancashire were relegated - I think it was around 4 pm. The MEN had a reporter at the game who was twittering all day long. As of quarter past midnight MEN online was still reporting ' Lancs in fight for survival'. I then noted that the MEN editor is now Rob Irvine. A bland, inoffensive, barely remembered chap, think he might have been a sub at the Post & Echo. Suddenly, rocketed into the stratosphere as editor of this and group editor of that. Glad I got out.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 9th 2012.

"Arselicking is rewarded"

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