Even Gutenberg wasn’t this pressed

A college newspaper is a unique organism. On one hand, it is a campus organization with members, traditions, and guidelines like all the other clubs. On the other hand, a newspaper operates on a much larger scale than most other organizations. Different members have different assignments which must all be put together in one week to create a finished product.

A section editor assigns a story to a writer. That writer must write the story and turn it back in. The editor edits the story and communicates with the graphics editor to create images for it and then works with the layout editor to see how it looks on the page. At the same time, the editor-in-chief and managing editor are overseeing all operations to make sure there will be no white space, in addition to managing ad sales and seeing the appropriate people get paid. It’s really a miracle that The Stentor comes out every week.

Every member of a school newspaper lives a dual identity. They must all walk the fine line between ensuring they don’t let the paper down but, above all, perform well in school. This dual identity also results in unavoidable schedule conflicts. Luckily, the use of e-mail alleviates some of these problems among the staff. Unfortunately, the newspaper must also work within the confines of the College’s schedule. If finals are bearing down on all of the editors, there’s a good chance that they’re taking up the time of the campus population. As a result, it gets extremely hard to get quality stories turned in sometimes. Editors often are left having to write their sections themselves, adding to their headaches and risking their general sense of sanity. This is yet another reason to commend everyone who puts quality work into a school paper.

Because everyone has a school life, newspaper duties at Lake Forest get lumped mainly on Tuesday nights. This is crunch time. This is where we either give each other high-fives for a job well done or run around screaming and pulling out our hair because there’s not enough material to make a newspaper. Unfortunately, the latter is usually the case. I’m lucky I’m not bald yet.

I call Tuesday nights my “five to five shift,” meaning that I’ll be in the office from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. People are constantly running in and out (like a real newsroom) throughout the shift, but a few of my fellow editors and I are in it for the long haul. It’s funny what happens to a person when they’ve been staring at a computer screen for twelve ours. When production night nears an end, the two or three of us left in the office start finding the most ridiculous matters hilarious. One of us will say something that isn’t even remotely amusing and we will all burst out laughing until tears are streaming down our faces.

This process happens every week like clockwork. But it’s by no means an atomic clock keeping time. New, different problems crop up each progressive week (the “bear at the door,” as our advisor calls them) and the staff comes up with ways to deal with them. We can make something from nothing and make it look good. That’s the magic of the newspaper. Granted, The Stentor comes out every Thursday – once a week. I have no idea how the university dailies do it. Their editors must have run out of hair to pull long ago.

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