Mike Tindall, Mark Tindall; same difference, no?

In Journalism on December 22, 2010 at 11:41 pm

The latest royal engagement reminds me why I’m not a tabloid sub. (And it’s not because I didn’t want to be.)

Mike Tindall is going to marry Zara Phillips in another royal wedding.

I might have been subbing a story about their approaching nuptials for the Mirror if it hadn’t been for, well, Mike Tindall.

When I was seeking my fortune in London just under six years ago, shortly before I moved to Dubai, I got some shifts at the Mirror. The newspaper was looking for subs and they said that as well as giving me some casual shifts, they would also be trying me out for size.

I did three shifts before they took a decision. Two of them were fine, the chief sub said, but in one I was off the boil. I had taken a wire story about Tindall and Phillips (it might have been when they first got together, come to think of it), and had taken the story apart and then put it back together, to make it more Mirror-esque (chatty, concise, tabloid). But when I rewrote it, I called Mike Tindall “Mark” Tindall.

“That’s the sort of mistake that gets newspapers sued,” I was told. And that’s why I wasn’t offered the job. Because “ike” became “ark” – an error of three letters.

I was a bit peeved at the time, and still am – the Mirror would have been a great place to cut my journalism teeth – but peeved at myself, not at the Mirror. A top-notch newspaper shouldn’t have mistakes like that, and top-notch subs shouldn’t make them. Sadly, standards here are more lax, even – particularly, even – among the bigger papers that should know better.

  1. “Because “ike” became “ark” – an error of three letters”

    Three letters? Are you sure?

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