Tim Moore is a chief sub-editor at a national newspaper. He graduated from the University of Birmingham with a degree in philosophy.
I've always enjoyed working with words, always been interested in current affairs, read newspapers from a young age and have a good eye for design. That sums up what I now do on a day-to-day basis.
At school, I was good at English - but journalism is a very different discipline from academic study. Journalism is about taking complex arguments and ideas and presenting them to the average reader in a concise and clear way. Partly, the romantic side of newspapers appealed to me, too. Yet sub-editing is a back-room role and there isn't much glamour involved. It is, however, a craft. Every day you start with a blank slate and, by the end of it, you have a newspaper. The mechanics of that process has always fascinated me.
I graduated with a degree in philosophy. I chose my degree because it encapsulated elements of science and English, which were strong subjects for me. Yet I always knew I wanted to go into some form of journalism, and tried to get onto a BBC postgraduate production course but was unsuccessful. Then I saw an advert for a features writer at a weekly newspaper which was part of the Birmingham Post and Mail group. I applied and got the job.
Writing and interviewing actors and musicians was great fun, but it was an unconventional route because most people who get into newspapers study with the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) first, whereas I learnt on the job. In hindsight, I wish I was NCTJ trained, too. If nothing else, to have a solid grounding would be a plus; and I think news journalists are slightly sceptical of people who aren't NCTJ qualified. It's less important if you work in magazines or other publications.
After a year at the Birmingham Post and Mail, I saw an opportunity for Deputy Editor at the Press Association, overseeing a department which produced camera-ready TV listings pages for national newspapers. I became TV editor and stayed at PA for five years.
My aim was always to work on a national newspaper, so I got freelance shifts in the production departments of The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Mirror. With that experience under my belt, I found a staff job as a sub on The Independent - which meant working very unsocial hours - and, after three years, moved to another national title where I am now Chief Sub-editor.
A few years ago I would have advised graduates who want to get into sub-editing to read newspapers constantly and sharpen their English and grammar. The way newspapers are going, however, you need to be multidisciplined because the web seems to be the way forward. On a day-to-day basis, InDesign is the software of choice for most newspapers, so being fluent in that will also be a bonus.
The industry is facing tough times at the moment. Some newspapers are doing away with their sub-editors, and asking journalists to sub their own work and write their own headlines. It's a bad idea. That way, madness lies.
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