In Alumni, Top Story
Brighton Journalist Works NCTJ graduate Sophie Devlin, who works as a sub editor at the Daily Mail's Weekend magazine

Brighton Journalist Works NCTJ graduate Sophie Devlin, who works as a sub editor at the Daily Mail’s Weekend magazine

After completing her NCTJ at Brighton Journalist Works in December 2014, Sophie Devlin secured a six-month internship at the Mail on Sunday’s YOU magazine.

She impressed the team there and in September 2015, joined the  Daily Mail‘s Weekend magazine team as a trainee sub editor.

Describe your average day.

Weekend is a weekly magazine, so we have to send an issue of the magazine to the printers every Thursday night.

As a sub editor my job includes fact checking, proofreading, headline writing and testing out the puzzles at the back of the magazine to make sure they can be solved – a very important job, as any errors in the puzzles will lead to complaints from readers.

The content of the magazine is varied, so although it has a broad focus on TV we also have to check everything from recipes to travel and gardening tips.

What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you while working on a story?

For a brief time I became an expert on the Targa Florio, a Sicilian car race, despite having no prior interest in the subject!

The same thing has happened with outfits worn by Joan Collins on Dynasty (a show I have never watched) and endangered pear trees.

Subs are probably the best people to have on your quiz team.

Joan Collins on the cover of the Daily Mail's Weekend Magazine

Joan Collins on the cover of the Daily Mail’s Weekend Magazine

What are your favourite stories you have worked on?

I’ve subbed some really interesting features in the past few months. I particularly enjoyed an interview with Judith Kerr, who wrote one of my favourite childhood books (The Tiger Who Came To Tea) and is still writing books in her nineties.

Ready for a The Tiger Who Came to Tea party. Image by Ruth Hartnup on Flickr. Licenced by Creative Commons.

Ready for a The Tiger Who Came to Tea party.

What work are you particularly proud of?

When you are a sub you learn to take pride in small achievements, like spotting a mistake that might otherwise have been missed.

Coming up with a headline idea and later seeing it in print is always especially memorable.

What is your happiest memory at Brighton Journalist Works?

Achieving 100wpm shorthand 12 weeks into the course was pretty amazing, but what I remember most fondly about BJW was the way the students worked together and supported each other, whether by testing each other on obscure points of media law or just celebrating one another’s achievements.

What skills did you learn at BJW that you still use today?

The optional module in production journalism has probably been the most helpful to me as a sub editor, since I use Adobe InDesign and have to interpret proofreading marks on a daily basis.

Conciseness and being able to write in any style has been pretty crucial as well.

What advice would you give to aspiring journalists?

This is a difficult question, as there is so much advice out there already. Much of it is pretty discouraging and not always helpful.

One thing I would encourage all BJW students to consider is that there is not just one way to be a journalist.

Even if you do not fit most people’s idea of what a journalist is or should be like (eg if, like me, you enjoy close reading, have an eye for detail and can work to deadline but do not see yourself as a reporter), there is almost certainly still a place for you in journalism if you keep an open mind and look for work that plays to your strengths.

Being a sub editor is not something I had considered before I started my NCTJ, but I have found that I really enjoy it and it suits me perfectly.

Similarly, among my cohort on the September 2014 course at Brighton Journalist Works there were people with all kinds of different skills and interests, and within six months of graduating 90 per cent of us had found work in the industry.

So my advice is to work hard, get your NCTJ, be willing to try new things and do not despair! It could be you.

 

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