Here’s a briefer on how our publishing process works, for the curious.
This happens throughout the week, but ideally ads have already been sold before the content is planned in order to define the size and available space of the issue. The design editor also needs time to turn any ads for which only text has been supplied into, well, designs.
The first step is generating ideas for our content. That looks different from section to section. The news editor is constantly scouring various sources to find out about university policy changes, student union executive meetings, charity events, and such, whereas the features editor is listening to the side conversations and thinking about what they mean for UTM students. Sports is attending games and arts is attending plays, and it all comes together nicely.
Every Monday, the section editors meet with the photo editor, the online editor, and the editor-in-chief to discuss their plans for the issue. Two things result from this: on the one hand, ideas are brainstormed and cuts are made, and on the other, the media needs are decided for the articles.
Writing, editing, photography
If the editors haven’t sent their article ideas to their pool of writers to offer or assign topics, they do so now. The writers get cracking. As they work, they send their drafts to their section editor, who tells them where they’re on track and where they need to change focus or add a little more. This back-and-forth is ideally wrapped up by Thursday evening, but some events happen later in the week. Meanwhile, the photo editor is sending the photographers to events to take pictures (and sometimes video). This is also when people are spontaneously writing letters to the editor.
Copy-editing and final editing
The section editors send their articles to the copy editor, who fixes mistakes of grammar, formatting, and clarity. The copy editor sends this batch on to the editor-in-chief, who gives them a final look-over, mostly for whether the final product is in a publishable state. Sometimes something just can’t be brought to where it needs to be within the timeframe we have, sometimes there’s a risk of saying something outside of our journalistic bounds, and so on.
Everyone has to be a little multitalented on a small staff. After the editor-in-chief sketches out how the paper will look in terms of picture and ad placement, the design editor sets up the page templates for the editors. But then on Sunday, when the entire editorial team is required to be in the office, the editors have to actually place and format their articles, because the work takes all of Sunday even when it’s divided over five people. (The editor-in-chief does the opinion section.) Meanwhile, the design editor prepares illustrations and infographics to accompany articles.
The copy editor looks over the laid-out pages one last time to check the text, as well to check any new text that’s been written—headlines, subtitles, photo captions, talking head quotes, and so forth. Then the editor-in-chief, the photo editor, and the design editor check all the layout, fix whatever needs fixing, and prepare the files for the printers. A little obsessiveness doesn’t hurt at this stage.
Distribution (print and online)
Late on Sunday night, the issue is sent to the printers, who churn out a few thousand copies and deliver them to us by Monday morning. Our distribution manager puts the papers on stands around campus and drives a few bundles to St. George for students to pick up as they start another hectic week. Meanwhile, the online editor and the webmaster are formatting the issue for the website and uploading it all. Throughout the week, we draw attention to the results of all the hard work via social media managing. Students read and comment on the articles, and… the whole process begins again, at least 20 times a year!