The digital production desk session was very interesting, just because it happened. For a large part of the past few years, we’ve been arguing about whether subbing, or more accurately production, has been killed off by new technology. A large part of that argument raged around a post by Roy Greenslade in which he argued that very case.
Greenslade’s argument was always nonsense. I’ve said so often on this blog, on comment threads on his blog, and elsewhere. It’s probably been one of my Top Five Most Talked About Things. I debated the issue with him and a panel of publishers at Publishing Expo, when he chose to characterise my argument that employers tended to see technology simply as way of cutting costs rather than as a way to improve quality while maximising efficiency as “all bosses are bastards”. Thankfully, we’ve moved on.
News Rewired’s digital production desk session started from the point that we needed a production function, and started a very good discussion about what that involved and where the overlaps between creation and presentation were. Martin Stabe‘s contribution was especially good, Roy might find the forensic breakdown of functions on the conference site informative, and Channel 4’s Vicky Taylor also added some real value to the debate. And as Martin said afterwards, the conversation is about more than just subbing.
Few now seem in doubt that the production function is necessary. The discussion is now, valuably, about where the general ends and specialisation starts, about the balance between investment and cost, about where new roles are emerging and traditional roles are overlapping. We’re acknowledging mistakes and finding productive new methods. That’s got to be more positive than the previous debate.