Monday, February 06, 2006

They say that mocking up is hard to do

Monday means production.

If that doesn't send a chill down your spine, you haven't seen a production day at any newspaper.

Picture the most violent, deranged Vietnam war movie you've ever seen - my pick would be Full Metal Jacket. Anyway, take the angst, the fear, the rage, the thousand-yard stares, and transplant that into a newsroom.

Now instead of grunts in fatigues, you've got frazzled journalists in shirtsleeves, waving pages at each other, clicking furiously at keyboards, and drop-kicking their computers off the roof.

Welcome... to my job.

Don't get me wrong - production is a vital part of the news process. Sure, we'd all like to go out, do some interviews, take some cute pictures, tap at the computer for a while, and go home happy. That's what writers do - and save for a few exceptions, they're very poor.

Well, I guess Journalists are poor too, but we have the comfort of knowing we're going to an early grave.

... sorry.

At any rate, production is important - without it, we have nothing to sell to our readers to justify our bloated salaries.

Let me take you through a typical production day at the Whitecourt star.

8:22 a.m.: I roll into the office after 22 minutes of frantic phone calls from my editor. Yes, I was late.
8:25 a.m.: I sit at my desk with a cup of tepid coffee from the night before, and behold a stack of printouts of my articles from the previous week. The amount of red on them initially convinces me that someone ran a gerbil through the print reels.
8:26 a.m.: I realize I was mistaken - these are my corrections.
9:20 a.m.: I've spent about the last hour tapping my corrections into the computer and dropping everything on the server. Also, I finally realize that the coffee I'm drinking is a day old. And chewy.
9:30 a.m.: The first dummies roll across my desk. These tell me what to put where. Whether or not it fits is another matter. This is also why Journalists must become masters of warping 2D space.
9:55 a.m.: This is where the computer locks up for the first time. Nonplussed, I reboot, get another coffee, spend five minutes googling myself on my laptop, and get back to work.
10:01 a.m.: The computer locks up a second time. Slightly frazzled, I reboot, go for a smoke, and get back to work.
12 p.m.: Lunch! Today was pizza! For free!
1 p.m.: Through some miracle, I've finished all my layout and am now dicking around on my laptop.
1:22 p.m.: A panicked call from my editor's office. I screwed up the pages. Great.
1:23 p.m.: Cowed, stunned, and a little disheartened, I sit at my computer again, fixing the layouts.
1:25 p.m.: The computer locks up again. I start to entertain fantasies of introducing the beige box to the back tire of my car.
3:20 p.m.: Layouts are finished. Now I'm on to proofing. Pages and pages of corrections as I tweak here, CP style there...
5:30 p.m.: Still tweaking. On the upside, the computer is running smoothly.
6:20 p.m.: I flop into my car, exhausted. What a day. And I get to do it next week.

Don't let that deter you, though. This is a great job. Just be prepared to work.


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