I’ve never worked for an online-only publication.
I love the fast-moving pace of the online world and the sheers numbers it reaches genuinely blows my mind, but I’ve always felt incredibly lucky to also be able to enjoy the thrill of seeing my byline in print. Not least because it means my grandparents can see I have a ‘real job’.
The permanency of print is an incredible thing. Yet, it is something that some people just don’t seem to grasp.
Many a time, while working for a newspaper, you would get a PR call the day an article was printed asking if a headline could be tweaked or a word could be changed. Perhaps if an entire comment could be added in. This can be irksome if the request is not because of a factual inaccuracy but because someone thinks they can do your job better than you can, but that’s a rant for another day.
The point is, we can do this with online content – which is good, because I spotted a typo in one of my blogs the other day. The shame! But I clicked into that post, added in a missing word and ta-da, no one will ever know. Except me, the shame will live with me forever.
But if this was some kind of peculiar newsletter I was writing, that would obviously be a little trickier. Tipp-ex has never been the subtlest of instruments, and how would you get all the copies back to amend?
This also applies to magazines and newspapers. The editions have been printed, published, posted – they are gone, I can’t get them back. Do you want me to run the length and breadth of the country Tipp-exing bits out or scrawling extra paragraphs in with a biro? Is that it?
This situation is further exaggerated when you are a freelance journalist. Because, really, the moment I send my copy to an editor, I lose all control. I don’t always know when it’s going to be printed, I don’t know what the layout will be and I won’t get to choose the headline. I find this partly incredibly scary and partly quite freeing.
So you can imagine my surprise the other day to receive an email saying: ‘Hi Holly. I read your piece in X on Y. My client is very knowledgeable on this subject. Would you like to speak to them and add it into the piece?’
Seriously? What do you want me to do?