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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Job

It has come to my attention, on more than one occasion, that people don't really know how a modern newspaper works. It seems likely that some people think we are still setting type and rolling ink. Although I know not all my acquaintances who wonder what I do at the magical paper factory will read this, I hope a few do and will have a greater understanding of 'My Job'.

I am going to start at the end...production day. This is the day when I inhabit the office for 10 hours straight editing the paper. Editing means reading through the entire paper, several times, looking for typos, misinformation or any other glaringly obvious screw ups; wrong font (size and type), incorrect names with pictures, etc. This is done on a computer in a program specifically made for magazine and newspaper publications. It's called InDesign.

On average we publish a 16 page paper but occasionally we go to 20 or 24 pages. By some quirk of the publisher, we always have to add four pages. And when we add those four pages we have to fill them. That is where the other side of my job comes in; as the writer.

Throughout the week I look for interesting things to write about. Some times it is glaringly obvious what I will write as in School Board meetings (dull and long) and Municipal Council meetings (dull and short). I attend these meetings and write an article which we then insert into the paper. Other pieces, aka articles, involve telephone or face to face interviews. I ask the questions, and write the answers in a hopefully skillful and entertaining manner.

That is essentially it.

At the end of production day, the graphic designer, who is the person who creates the ads you love and the layout of the paper, sends the paper to our publisher via the internet. There is no printing of papers at our office.

The following day, our drivers deliver the paper throughout the county; and it's a big county.

That's how you get your paper. But my work isn't quiet done. After production day I have one more job left; upload day. I take the paper and load articles onto our website and post the full paper for digital subscribers in a PDF file. Last week the PDF didn't work and I am the closest thing to a comp tech at work and I don't know how to fix this problem. We'll be seeking additional help in the New Year.

So now you know how to publish a newspaper; the Coles notes version. Just wanted to keep you all informed. It's my job.

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