Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sub standards

Something sub-optimal is happening with the sub-editing of our top magazines. In the old days (not wishing to sound like an old codger such as Warwick Roger, Garth George or Gordon McLauchlan) when I was one, the subs were the unsung heroes. The journalists and columnists wrote the words, but they depended absolutely on the sub-editors to ensure that what was printed was both readable and true. Not any more. APN has for a while now outsourced much of its subbing to an outfit called Pagemasters, with pretty poor results, and it looks as though ACP has done the same, judging by the quality of the product.

One recent issue of the Listener, an APN publication, listed on its content page an interview with one Norm Chomsky, whom one assumed was a distinguished Australian. Nope, it was Noam. A couple of pages over, Deborah Hill Cone referred to Michael Lewis’s modern business classic Liar’s Poker as a novel. All writers make mistakes, but they should be able to count on a sub to save them from embarrassment.

And there was a lulu in last month’s issue of ACP’s North & South, from Peter Shaw of all people. Peter knows more about music than the rest of us put together, but this is what was printed:
In September, EMI wisely decided to include a classic 1968 recording of Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time in their series Great Recordings of the Century on EMI 212 6882. Played by the violinist Erich Gruenberg, clarinettist Gervase de Peyer, cellist William Pleeth and pianist Michel Beroff, this recording provided many people with their first Messiaen experience – and a great one it was. Now paired with his Chronochromie, a huge orchestral piece featuring an arsenal of percussion instruments, the Quartet is perhaps the quintessential Messiaen work, even though it does not feature any keyboard instruments.
I can’t believe Peter made that mistake, but any half-decent sub would have spotted that a piece whose performers include the pianist Michel Beroff does indeed feature a keyboard instrument. It rather undermines one’s confidence in the rest of the magazine.

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