Sub Editor Qualifications & Functions of Sub editor

Sub Editor Qulaifications & Functions of Sub editor

Sub Editor

 A sub editor receives a large number of news from news agencies, reporters and correspondents. He also receives press releases and handouts. He cannot publish all those news. Therefore, he selects important and interesting news reports. After selection he edits the news properly. The function of revising and editing is called sub-editing or subbing. Sub-editor is called the backbone of a newspaper due to his most important job.

To present a news in an accurate and adequate way is the need of a good newspaper. This is sub-editor who performs this job. During editing of the news he also keeps in mind the laws of libel and defamation. He deletes all objectionable and surplus publicity material from news stories and publishes only newsworthy materials. During sub-editing the extra and repeated parts-of the news are killed down. The most important job of a sub-editor is to prepare headlines of the news stories and write stories in descending order of importance.

Faultily expressions, bad grammatical forms, incorrect spellings and other defects must be removed and revised during sub-editing. Sometimes sub-editor rewrites a story that has not been properly written. After subbing, the news copy is forwarded to the shift incharge or news editor who forwards it to the computer section. If there is any deficiency in the news story, is sent back to the sub-editor for improvement. Good editing can enhance effectiveness of stories.


Like many other professions journalism has also become an organised discipline. In Western countries a large number of organisations and professional institutions are imparting training instruction in theoretical and practical journalism. In Pakistan also many universities have introduced Masters level programme in Journalism/Mass Communication. In recent years many professional institutions have also come into existence in private sector which are running full time and part time

In the past there were no preconditions of prescribed educational or professional qualification for a person who wanted to join the profession of journalism. This was open for all. Anybody having a flair for writing and liking for this profession could join it. Many a famous journalist and ed;or m the past did not possess very high academic or professional qualifications Even some of the renowned journalists of today neither possess very high academic qualifications nor any professional training. They occupied high positions in the profession due to their flair for writing and their hard work.

But now this trend is changing The owners of newspapers pilfer young people with decrees in M A Journalism or Mass Communication, because they have learnt the history, theory and practice of journalism. They know about the modern techniques of communication They have better news sense than those who are less educated.

A sub-editor must have good command over language. He should be able not only to express his own ideas but also to turn the diffused language of others in direct, simple and lucid wording without changing its meaning. He should have good skill of language and communication.

The more important qualifications for a sub-editor are: instinct for news; ability to make decision; ruthlessness, conscientiousness; keenness on the job; a good memory; health and sight which can stand the strain of continued night work. He should be a man of great mental alertness and should have a keen news sense. He should be a regular reader of the newspaper so that he may aware of the development of different stories. He should have knowledge about current affairs. He should have knowledge of the technical terms used in his field.

Some educational and other professional qualifications for the profession of journalism are mentioned below:

a)        A minimum educational qualification of a Bachelor degree is insisted upon by the management of most of the newspapers.

b)        Masters degree in journalism or Mass Communication is desired but not a necessary condition. Some newspapers insist on this qualification.

c)        A flair for writing.

d)        A vast general knowledge about national and international affairs.

e)        Willingness to learn more and more about different fields.

No doubt a young man with a good educational qualifications and a flair for writing.

Functions of Sub editor

The editorial staff of newspapers consists of a number of sub-editors. The basic role of a sub-editor is (he selection and processing of news copy for the purpose of publication The functions of a sub editor are as follows:-

  1. Selection of News
    1. The main duty of a sub-editor is selection of news. A large number of news is received in the office of a newspaper from different sources, i.e. reporters, news agencies, hand out, press releases, etc. Due to limited space all of these news could not be accommodated. Therefore, the sub-editor who is incharge of the desk, has to be selective about the news stones to be published The news stories submitted by the reporters are preferred.
  2. Correcting the ropy
    1. The news stories are usually not written in a proper news style. Sometime there is repetition and redundancy of words and sentences. Sub-editor edits all these things. He corrects the copy grammatically. He also contacts the news agency when a news is misprinted or there is any other fault in the creed.
  3. Making Improvement in the Copy
    1. A sub-editor is also required to improve the copy. He removes the irrelevant details and trims down sentences to a reasonable length and use short and appropriate words for those long and unappropriate one.
  4. Making Suitable Intro:
    1. Weak intro of a news report fails to project the significance of the message and diminishes the importance of the news item. The sub-editor liable to rearrange the report in order to give a catching intro to news story.
  5. Rewriting the Story
    1. Sometimes the news report is poorly drafted and also contains superfluous details. It is not possible for a sub-editor to publish the entire story due to limited space In such circumstances, the sub-editor summarizes the story in such a way that its main points are not dropped. For this purpose a sub-editor must possess linguistic and journalistic competence.
  6. Breaking down of the news report into paras
    1. A news report is different from an essay or an article. Training and experience can teach a sub-editor to arrange a story into logically constructed paras. A news story is divided into small paras that make its meaning clear. The small paras of a news make its reading an enjoyable activity. The reader gets the message easily and quickly.
  7. Giving the Headline
    1. In modern journalism the headline has become an essential part of the story. The headline tells the reader what the story is about and it highlights the nature of the story. Another important function of the headline is to beautify the page. The headlines vary in size and length. It may be a single column, double column, three column etc. The maximum length of the headline is eight columns and this is called lead or super lead. Different computer points are used for different types of headlines. A headline attracts the readers and presents the summary of the whole news. Making a suitable and concise headline of a news story according to its importance is the basic function of a sub-editor. Before writing the headline the sub-editor should go through the whole story carefully. He may write two or three headlines. He should count the number of letters and then write the point of computer according to the computer chart.

After finalising the news story, sub-editor sends it to the computer section for composing.

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