Performance instructions issued to Evening Times staff

ALLMEDIASCOTLAND hears of consternation among some of the staff at the Evening Times newspaper, whose editor has issued a memo outlining his editorial ambitions.

Donald Martin tells his staff, for instance, that “all reporters should be fast and accurate with an ability to file clean and well-structured copy – straight from their notebook when required – to meet the demands of real-time news for the web. They must also have the ability to regularly generate unique content – exclusive, off-diary stories and features – for the print editions of the Evening Times”.

Says one insider: “Staff don’t know whether to laugh or cry.”

Adds the memo: “We will be looking for all reporters and writers to reach 100wpm in line with minimum, current industry standards so that news can be filed quickly and accurately from a notebook to the web either after a phone interview in the office or from the scene of a breaking story. We will assess training needs and identify suitable courses and training.”

And it continues: “All reporters should have the ability to write clean, tight, accurate copy to a set length which hits the news angle, is well-structured, avoids repetition, meets house style requirements and needs minimal intervention by newsdesk or sub-editors. In the case of breaking news, they must be able to do this quickly to deadline and, when required, straight from notebook to phone or computer.”

Writers are also being required to think about how a story can be illustrated in the newspaper and whether there should be an accompanying sidebar. For the web, there should be additional thought about accompanying music, etc.

The memo goes on to outline expected output from staff: “All general news reporters should produce an average of one page lead (or spread) a day. At least two of these every week should be self-generated, unique content. They should also, on a daily basis, produce 2/3 support stories (200 – 250 words) and 3/4 fillers (80 -100 words). These should be written to length and need minimal subbing.

“All reporters should produce at least one self-generated, unique content spread (800 words) every two weeks in consultation with the newsdesk and at least one unique content splash or front page news story every two weeks. Specialist reporters should also produce one page lead or spread a day, 2-3 support stories and 3-4 fillers a day.

“For specialists, a unique content spread (or equivalent) every week is the required minimum with at least one of their self-generated stories making it on to the front page a week.

“All features writers are expected to produce two features spreads per week, either a general or showbiz feature. They will also produce at least three pieces of furniture per week. They will also be expected to provide news pieces in their areas of expertise ie music, comedy etc. All features must be relevant to readers and have Glasgow at their heart.”

Performance is to be regularly monitored by associate editor, Brian Currie, and heads of department, Yvonne Flynn and Garry Scott.