So, which one do you like best?
It’s not just sub-editors who get their work reviewed, rewritten and sent back: designers suffer too. These are the proposals the chief designer came up with for our housing special a couple of weeks ago. Some of the variants exist because she wasn’t satisfied with the first draft; some of them exist because the section editor didn’t like any of the options she was initially presented with; some of the previously discarded options came back into favour and got reworked when the editor himself took an interest.
My favourites are the first two: the Monopoly theme and the bold “SOLD OUT” sign. The two house of cards ideas are good metaphors for our view of the overheating UK property market, but maybe not the most exciting pictorially. No one much liked “Through The Keyhole”. The outline of Britain made up of photographs was the designer’s own favourite, but it took me 20 seconds to get it; I thought it only really worked from a distance. There was also support for the row of gentrified and ungentrified houses, the front door montage and the high-rise flat joke.
These went back and forth from design to editorial while heads were scratched and lips pursed. The upside and downside to working on the most high-profile parts of the paper is that you get lots of management attention: you’re right up at the sharp end, but it’s pretty exhausting. Further back in the book, in the business pages, the mood is a blend of relief at being semi-autonomous coupled with an occasional yearning for someone to take a keener interest.
All that work for just one page of one section in one week’s paper. The following week, everyone involved had entirely moved on to something else: one of the blessings of being a journalist is that difficult days are so swiftly and easily forgotten. There’s scarcely even time for a post-mortem.
And can you guess which one finally made the cut? That’s right: none of them.