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Eight eyes better than two, or you end up with ‘asses’ that ‘fry’

Even the best writers need a second pair of eyes to go through their article. And in the business of newspaper production, quality is ensured by more pairs of eyes that look at the stories and pages before press.

A reporter will write their story and send to the news desk. If it is picked, the chief sub-editor will allocate it to a sub, whose responsibility is to edit for clarity, verify the facts and fit it in the available space, among other tasks. The sub writes an appropriate headline for the story. Theirs will, therefore, be the second pair of eyes to look at the story after news desk.

In an ideal situation, the story will then be handed to a revise editor who will pick out what might have escaped the sub, and in the process make the story cleaner and tighter. They should pay particular attention to headlines, photo captions, graphics, etcetera.

The production editor will have the final check before a page is sent to press. In their checklist is to look at headlines, captions, datelines, and turns, among other page furniture. Their role as the final gatekeeper is most crucial in arresting any issues, typos or mistakes that may have escaped either the sub or revise editor.

The production editor’s role as the last line of defence is critical in arresting any goofs that may have escaped the attention of all the others in the production chain.

The second story on Page 4 of The Standard on Friday, May 10, had the headline, ‘State officials asses schools ahead of Monday reopening’. Between the sub editor and their revise counterpart, they lost the letter ‘s’ on the word “assess”, giving the headline a totally unintended meaning. The production editor should have picked this out and spared the newspaper the embarrassment. And for this they get a barb.

Earlier, on Wednesday, May 8, we could also say something about the CS Kuria headline on page 6, but let’s instead refer to the body of the text, at paragraph three. “In Murang’a they were competing on who would arrive first and later fry using a chopper and that is a high level of stupidity…”

The Public Service Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria is quoted in this text. However, instead of ‘flying’ using a chopper, the sub and the revise editors let whoever was flying to “fry” instead. This is a typo that the spellchecker could not have picked out as it is a correct English word. Only the keen revise editor could.

Wrong or unintended words have a way of making it to print. So, the more the eyes that look at a story or page, the better. The onus rests with all concerned to ensure that what is published is correct.

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