COMMENT 

Perils of picture captioning

James Evelegh's editorial from today's edition of InPubWeekly.

By James Evelegh

Perils of picture captioning

I have to confess to feeling a twinge of sympathy for the unfortunate member of the Cycling Weekly team, whose “appalling lack of judgement” meant that a picture caption above a female cyclist in last week’s issue went to press, reading: “Token attractive woman”.

In the Twitter storm that ensued once a reader had spotted and posted their outrage, I’m sure that not one of the brickbats hurled CW’s way was thrown by anyone who’d ever worked in an editorial department.

Of course, it was a toe-curling mishap which spoiled a four page (and sponsored!) spread on Hinckley Cycling Race Club. I can only assume it was a placeholder, put there by someone in the production team, which was never intended to see the light of day, but which was missed by the final checker who simply saw a completed caption box. Box ticked, ready to go.

Print is a wonderful but very unforgiving medium. Once it’s out, it stays out, hence the multi-layers of checking.

I’ve just finished editing Ray Snoddy’s interview with PA editor-in-chief Pete Clifton (running in our Sep/Oct issue) in which Pete spoke of the joys of working in the newsroom: “It’s full of great people, it’s exciting, the humour is often dark and outrageous but I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

To me, this looks like “dark” humour compounded by a tired set of final eyes.

For the record, I downloaded the digital edition (£2.99) and read the offending article: leaving aside the jarring caption on one picture (of eleven featured), the article was written by a woman, four female cyclists were pictured and three were quoted in the piece. It was a cheerful, positive, inoffensive article.

I don’t think that Cycling Weekly has a particular problem with sexism, but, hey, stuff happens…