You know, it seems like I should know better than to have hope. I’ve seen so many goals fall by the wayside, so many rules get ignored, that I don’t think anyone could blame me if I washed my hands of the whole deal and just took a business-as-usual approach to everything. Last production cycle, we almost achieved a goal that hasn’t been met for as long as I’ve been on staff, and probably before that. 16 is a big number, and as a page count it seemed to forever be just tantalizingly out of reach for such a small – and largely new – staff. But last time we had it. We made 16 pages, give or take a little bit of filler. It was sitting there, looking all glorious in the layout, and all we had to do was export it to Adobe PDF and send it to the printer.
And right about there is where the nightmare began.
InDesign, our layout software, apparently didn’t take kindly to any of this “progress” nonsense, and decided that two of our pages were corrupt and wouldn’t export properly. And try as we might over the course of the next hour, we could not figure out what was wrong. So, we had to cut those two pages and two others to make a 12-page newspaper. It wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened by far, but it was still depressing to have worked so hard towards the goal only to have it shot down at the very last second.
The good news is that we still made 12 pages on our first real issue of the semester. The bad news is that it was riddled with errors. Many are small, many are unnoticeable. Many are not. The biggest thing that’s wrong is that our staff box is from two semesters ago, mainly because I pulled it out of the wrong file at the last second and didn’t double-check it. Most of it is stuff we could have fixed with more time to edit, which we unfortunately didn’t have. I knew that process would be sloppy the first time around, but apparently I’d made a lot of unfounded assumptions about what people knew and what knowledge would get passed out around the newsroom.
This is a learning process for me too, and two weeks ago I learned not to simply assume that because some of the people in the newsroom know what they’re doing when it comes to layout or the editing process that everyone does. So I made sure everything everyone needed to know about everything that happens in the newsroom got put down in a procedures outline – which I’m extremely proud of – and we went over it during class time.
We’ll see how well it took, but I still haven’t lost my faith in this staff. Far from it, in fact. Despite the setbacks we encountered last time, we learned quite a bit, and we’re gunning for another 16-page edition this cycle, as well as a few other changes you might notice.