In-company training Scottish style
Earlier this year I was invited up north to run a training course for the subeditors and reporters who prepare the Scottish Parliament’s Official Report – the written record of everything that is said in public meetings of the Scottish Parliament and its committees. Daffodil time in Edinburgh is too beautiful to miss, and providing tailored in-company workshops is a branch of tutoring that always stimulates me: I enjoy the challenge of getting to know how an organisation uses text and finding ways of helping the staff to work more accurately and efficiently, to save time, money or multiple proof stages.
In this case the staff were highly skilled and experienced editorial professionals; many have been with the Parliament since its inception. They have well-established working practices and a style compendium that makes the New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors look like a pamphlet. What they wanted was a day of editorial challenges that would build on their existing skills and provide a different perspective.
They tackled the increasingly difficult exercises and brain-teasers with enthusiasm, humour and impressive speed – they are used to having the report of a meeting ready for publication in print and online by 8am the following morning. We had lively discussions on punctuation, the finer points of grammar and preserving the author’s voice whilst ensuring clarity and eliminating redundancy. The workshop evidently fitted the bill. Comments on the feedback form included:
‘interesting and stretching’
‘really well customised to our work while still teaching us new things. A day very well spent!’
There were lots of questions that I would have liked to ask in the coffee breaks but political discussion was, of course, off-limits. Is Cuckoo’s cupcake poll an accurate reflection of the Scottish nation’s taste for the future? We’ll soon find out. But one thing I know already: whatever the future holds for the Scottish Parliament, it will be faithfully reported with meticulous attention to detail and impeccable punctuation.