Monday, May 06, 2013

Snags continue to hit the News Letter; while two regional dailies run identical features in their women’s section

I had a leisurely read today through a couple of this morning’s papers and a number of oddities jumped off the pages. While verging on petty, the snags and snafus do point to the lack of subeditors at the News Letter and the pressure on the remaining Johnston Press staff who recently switched to use a new template-based approach that imposes limits on story length and page layout.

Both the Irish News and the News Letter use the same old photo of Keira Knightly in a bridesmaid dress at a friend’s wedding in 2011.

Unfortunately, the News Letter label the picture as “Actress Keira knightly arrives for her wedding”. [Other than sharing the same image, the News Letter online article for this story is completely different from the published one!] The Daily Mail is pretty sure she wore a white dress at her own wedding!

Both papers cover Friday evening’s statement from the Archbishop of Armagh in reaction to Archdeacon Leslie Stevenson’s last minute decision to decline appointment as Bishop of Meath & Kildare. Referring to the three bishops who had visited Leslie Stevenson “in an individual capacity to offer pastoral support” the day before he declined the appointment (which was first announced in February), the News Letter piece finishes with the odd sentence:
Archbishop of Dublin Dr Michael Jackson said the bishops “were they seeking to revoke the decision of the House of Bishops”.
Whatever that means? [Corrected in the online version of the article.] The full sentence from the Archbishop of Dublin that was being quoted said:
The bishops were not representing the House of Bishops, nor were they seeking to revoke the decision of the House of Bishops who had previously confirmed his election to the bishopric of Meath & Kildare in good faith.
My eye was caught by the same white and blue patterned clothes in the women’s section of both the Irish News and the News Letter [also online]. Feature writer Lisa Haynes struck gold - twice - with her content being picked up by both regional papers today. While the two articles differently edit Lisa's original material and photos, both pieces start with same common sense sentence:
With each fashion season there are mainstream looks, and then there are niche trends.
Not for the first time, the Letters to the Editor page in the News Letter seems unsure of the newspaper’s proper Portadown address.

The bottom left hand corner of the page suggests it is “Cam Industrial Area”.

In a paragraph immediately below it becomes plain “Carn”.

And over in the bottom right hand corner it is more correctly listed as “Carn Industrial Area”.

Let’s not even start commenting on the wide variation of byline styles still being used across different articles in the relaunched News Letter.

Questions remain about the effect of recent changes at the News Letter on staff morale, its inability to include late-breaking stories given the inflexibility of the new templates, and whether the concentration on online video will pay off for the paper's website and tablet edition.

I understand that Johnston Press are once again looking for further redundancies, and in the last few weeks the NUJ have raised the issues of defamation/libel (writing a balanced article that sums up two sides of a court case in 200-250 words is very difficult) as well as occupational stress with local JP management.

While Johnson Press' managing director in Ireland agreed to be interviewed last August/September, a date was never set and she hasn't responded to my most recent email trying to arrange something to mark the paper's relaunch. 

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