RBI site
Reed Business Information (RBI) has set up a series of web production courses for its production staff aimed at promoting new multi-platform skills across the publishing group.

The courses start with a one-day introdution to HTML followed by a day's training in CSS two weeks later. The next will run later this month, before another opportunity in September.

The training is not compulsory, but RBI has looked at which divisions amongst its staff would benefit most and the courses so far have been over-subscribed.

The training on offer represents new thinking at the publisher about the role of the production desk and sub-editor in the modern newsroom, Karl Schneider, head of editorial development at RBI, told Journalism.co.uk.

Reporters and writers' roles at the publishers titles have progressed into "beat reporter" positions, working across print and online properties, says Schneider: "They use whatever tools are appropriate to tell the story. There's been a reasonably clear migration path for those people. but it's not been so clear for the production desk."

"In the past they were putting together magazines, taking a lump of content, sub-editing it, giving it a tweak to improve it, before pulling in other bits to make a complete package for an audience. These are the people that deal with the final product that people see. If you go to the web that role still exists," said Schneider.

On the web, the pages that the production desk must pull together are of a different variety and require "at least some knowledge of HTML or CSS", but production staff don't nee to be "hard coders", he added. The training helps overcome "a sense of frustration" amongst many production stuff that they cannot control what is happening on their own sites: "They know how to make things happen in print, but not on a website."

The traditional role of the sub-editor does not always apply with online and social media - for example, sub-editing Twitter updates seems unnecessary - but the new, emerging role of the production desk is just as important and borrows from the print skills, said Schneider.

"Now web-editing tools are much more familiar and like InDesign. Once people experiment and have success, it really gets them fired up. The production desk has always been the more technical end of the editorial team and the bit of the editorial team that's closest to the point of delivery, so it didn't seem that big a leap [to train people in web production]," he said.

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