Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. - Eleanor Roosevelt

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

4 people + 14 unedited articles = production day

Today was production day. It actually should've been yesterday (Tuesday), but given the events of the last few days, I, as Editor, made the decision to move it to Wednesday. It was a good decision, but it still didn't alleviate a lot of the problems I was hoping to with that extra day.

Without a Copy Editor, editing copy is naturally a nightmare. There were four of us working last night, and all of today. I'm pretty good at spotting mistakes... I find them all the time in newspapers, books and websites. It's easy to find mistakes when you're not rushing. But when you're rushing, and it's your product you're proofreading, it's a little less easy.

Like I said, there were four of us; me, the assistant editor, the designer and Dave, the man I mentioned in a previous post, who reminds me of Peter Boyle. Between the four of us, we had an insane amount of unedited articles to take care of between yesterday and today. And when I say unedited, I mean UNEDITED. I must put the crackdown on writers not following instructions, because the hot mess we had on our hands at production time cannot be repeated and is totally unacceptable.

Now, I understand that Arapahoe Community College isn't exactly an institution with the cream of the crop as its student body, but these people aren't exactly dumb. Some of them are quite brilliant. The problem is this apathy from students and faculty alike. Even professors attest to this apathy, and that is a complete and utter shame, because it transfers to the students.

Because of this attitude, I'm having trouble getting things done. Stories are turned in late despite many warnings that missing deadlines is a ticket to getting fired. When work is turned in on time, it is either riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, or it is simply incoherent. Writers think that once their work is turned in, they're free and disappear until it's too late to get them to make corrections, or get more information. We, the editors, end up editing and sometimes rewriting entire articles because of this carelessness.

The writers are very sadly mistaken if they think they can do things half-assed and still get a byline by themselves, if at all. With issue two, there will be quite a bit of cinching and tightening.

For one thing, now that things are more official, job descriptions will be handed out. The job descriptions state plainly what is expected of each individual in the position they are filling. I hope that by letting people see what they are officially supposed to be doing, I get to insure that instructions are followed, and that stuff gets done. Moreoever, job descriptions will weed out those who are unqualified. I hate to say it, but I've got a feature section editor who doesn't know who her writers are and what stories they're working on. This isn't including the fact that she can't write features to begin with. I don't know how she became feature editor, but a feature editor, a mediocre movie reviewer does not make! Hopefully, by giving this person an official job description she will realize what the position involves and decide to either drop it (which I'm hoping for, since I have someone in mind to take the position and do well at it), or she will start being more proactive.

Then I've got writers who walk in without any experience, but are sporting gigantic, air-filled egos. I have one writer who is 25, used to be in a band, left the band after the usual "band break-up" drama, skipped a chance to sign on with a huge label (or so he says), and decided to come back to school after seeing his friends get their degrees and making something of their lives, while he was rocking on, and bar tending. Great, I thought. He really wants to be here, and really wants to learn! WRONG. The guy has an ego the size of the state of Texas, and is a major d***. I'm not alone in my opinion of this supposed rockstar. Even the advisor agreed with me. I will admit that he is our best news reporter, but I can't get over his attitude and want nothing more than to twist his ear and make him see that the very thing stopping him from becoming something more than a former rocker is his ego.

BUT I won't be twisting any ears, or giving any reality checks to him, or anyone. I am supposed to be diplomatic, gentle and encouraging, even when people don't deserve it. I simply cannot afford to lose any more writers... especially not news writers.

I've always hated it when people say things like "team work", "team player", or "proactive", but I'm finding myself at a loss for any other words at this point. The words still make me twitch, but they are very important when you're trying to make a machine work that has different parts that must function properly for success. The Arapahoe Free Press is lacking team work and team players who are proactive, and I'm growing tired of it already.

The good news is, tomorrow issue one is on stands and it has become clearer to me what needs to be done to insure a better process for issue two. In the meantime, I must improve on my leadership skills and put my foot down on slacking.

Now, I'll go do some homework.

No comments: