Each year, the West Central Tribune publishes a behemoth of a paper one day prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s one of the best-selling editions of the year and includes 20 promotional inserts. Some 4,000 extra copies are printed to accommodate the coffee-laced, sleepy-eyed shopper looking for their fill of coupons as they hit the stores at some ungodly hour for the Black Friday sales. Because of the sheer size of Wednesday’s paper, the editors who comprise the Tribune’s news and sports desks will send the newspaper to press one hour early.
I never met a deadline I couldn’t hit. You learn rather quickly in the newspaper business that a deadline should be respected and rarely pushed.
Tonight’s deadline, however, will prove a bit tricky. Sadly, like most editors, I’m guilty of a mistake or two. Sometimes they come in bulk, as if you’re in a slump. They also often have little regard for deadlines, appearing like magic as the worst possible time. You tell yourself it’s the nature of the job. When you read 10,000-plus words, and countless headlines and photo captions each day, you’re going to skim over a misplaced comma, a missing period, a run-on sentence, etc., etc. Sometimes you’ll even venture down the path of all things unholy and spell a source’s name wrong. It’s painfully embarrassing and frustrating, but it’s also human nature. But with all eyes on Wednesday’s paper, the pressure to avoid these errors, while working with time constraints, is obviously heightened.
We’ll see what comes from tonight. It’s 10:15 a.m. on a sunny Tuesday, and I’m already sketching out front page designs. Hopefully the outcome is a fine one. Hopefully the error gods see fit to smile on us for the holidays. Hopefully we hit deadline. The latter, obviously, was a poor attempt at humor.
If, however, the newspaper disappoints, I urge you to turn to the inserts. Your pain will be short lived.
–Dan Burdett, Presentation Editor