I’m writing this late on Tuesday night.
Tuesdays are my long days at work. We’re a weekly paper, the Altavista Journal, and we come out each Wednesday. So we’re due at press Tuesday nights.
My mind is still on work, so I thought I’d share a look at what a Tuesday is like for this small town reporter.
|I took this photo of my desk at work one day. Notice the bottles. I get thirsty!|
*I arrived at work a little before 10:00 a.m., late morning because I knew it would be a late night. I had already written my stories for this week—three bylined stories (stories that show I wrote them) and three briefs (stories with no bylines, usually rewrites of news releases).
*I checked my email, looking for a news release from the Virginia State Police. I had heard about a fatal crash in the county overnight. Because I hadn’t received an email, I sent one to the communications contact with the VSP in Richmond asking for information.
*Our news staff is made up of our editor and two staff writers, who are me and another reporter. The news editor at one of our sister papers used to work for the Journal, and he still helps with layout on Tuesdays.
*The four of us met with the advertising manager at about 10:30 to decide how many pages to include in this week’s issue. A lot depends on the number of ads and the amount of copy we have.
*Once that’s decided, the news staff figures out what goes on each page. Page one is especially important, and deciding what goes there can take a lot of discussion.
*We finished up our meeting around 11:30 and all but the editor started laying out pages. We use Adobe InDesign for layout. As we finish up a page, we print them out on large paper and pass them on to the editor to read. After we’ve corrected pages, we change them to PDF format to send to the press. We also print the PDFs to check headlines, dates, etc. one more time. It’s a process that goes on all day.
|My work computer showing one of the pages of the paper in InDesign. The photo on the upper right corner of the monitor shows Thunder Cat, who we lost in 2009.|
*Larry picked me up for lunch at 12:10 and we ate Mexican.
*I returned to work and continued working on layout.
*At 1:45 I drove 17 miles to Rustburg, our county seat, to cover a 2:30 governmental committee meeting, a 4:00 Board of Supervisors meeting (the Board is the governing body of the county), and public hearings at 5:30.
*I got back to Altavista at 7:00. No one else was in the office: the editor was covering a town council meeting, one reporter was covering a high school volleyball game, and the one that works on Tuesdays only was covering something in his own town.
*I had received a news release from the state police about the fatal wreck, so I wrote that up. I also wrote a story based on the Board of Supervisors meeting.
|One of my notebooks. Sometimes I have a hard time reading my own handwriting.|
*I put the stories on the pages and worked on readying copy and photos for the website.
*The editor got back at 9:00. He wrote his story, and I put that on the page. Meanwhile, the other reporter returned.
*We worked out some corrections and my co-reporter sent the pages to the press over the Internet via Fetch.
*I got home a little after 11:00. Larry met me at the door, and my kitties fussed at me for being gone all day long. I made over everyone.
And that was a Tuesday in the life of this small town reporter. I don’t have to follow meetings every Tuesday—that usually happens only once a month. On Tuesdays when I’m in the office all day, I also help with editing and proofing.
And the other days of the week on the job? That’s another story!
What has been your favorite job ever?