Building’s departing chief sub-editor, Jo Connolly gets a few things off her chest
I’ve been at Building for five years, chief sub-editor for three– and there is one thing I’ve learned. Okay, maybe I’ve learned a few more than that, but there is one thing that might interest you lot in cyber-reader-land. That is, construction is pretty similar to magazine production.
Now, don’t scoff – I’m not just making it up as some conceit from which to hang my first (and last) Building blog – oh no. It’s true. Why? Because of the deadlines, of course. Both businesses are all about the deadlines.
Like construction, the magazine world has its fair share of Multiplexes – those culprits who promise you the world, insist that what you are asking them for will be on time and in immaculate condition, even bragging that it’ll be early – only to fail you at the last minute. Every single time. Indeed, with these types of writers, the only thing that you can rely on them to do is let you down.
It wouldn’t be so bad if you got some advanced warning. I invariably spend Building’s Monday morning editorial meetings weeping into my latte and begging the reporters to just LET ME KNOW if an article is going to be late. Then I can do something else in the meantime instead of sitting upright, waiting expectantly, occasionally bobbing my head meercat-like above the bank of computers, only to find the deadline time has come and gone and I’m still left with a blank page.
Think of it, if you will, like I’m the person organising the gigs at Wembley Stadium. Now, I know that the stadium won’t be ready on time for the Bon Jovi gig; they know it won’t be ready on time – and yet they insist on telling me it will. So I’m sent packing to Bon Jovi’s agent and am forced to say, hey guys, we’re rocking and rolling.
Now the twist in all this is that, as co-co-ordinator of the Economics (formerly Datafile) section (whoo-hoo!), some of my contributors are actually from the construction industry themselves. Mostly enthusiastic quantity surveyors dying to impart their knowledge on how much it’ll cost you to install 20 toilets per floor in a sustainable office block with a green roof. These guys are even worse than the Building journalists – this is a weekly magazine, but these articles are rarely better than a week late. I tried building in a week-long buffer zone but they soon wised up to that. And now that I’m leaving Building for pastures new, I’m tempted to name and shame them. Okay, for the sake of the magazine I’ll resist.
That said, they’ve been a great bunch to work with – the journalists and the external contributors. I’m off now – thank you and good night.