What goes on behind the scenes at a community newspaper?

Kailey Mgrdichian

Kailey Mgrdichian

 

By Kailey Mgrdichian
Northeast News
August 6, 2014

You read the newspaper every week, but do you know what it takes to make one?

There are the emails, the stories, the proofreading, the layout, the printing and finally the packaging. I learned today how the Northeast News is made. I first took a tour of the building, and learned about the morgue upstairs. This one isn’t for bodies; instead, this one is for newspapers. Newspapers from 1964 to the present week filled the second level. There are also advertiser insert pieces ads upstairs, to be inserted in to the newspaper. Paid advertisements are a newspaper’s life blood, in both the printed product and the online edition. The rest of the work is on computers and journals. It all starts with an ongoing review of local news stories, emails – 200-300 a day on average – and a review of online blogs about local events.

Today I shadowed Joe Jarosz to see what a Managing Editor at a weekly community paper does on a day-to-day basis. We interviewed Meghan Jansen, Public Information Manager for KC Streetcar Constructors, at a construction site near Third and Holmes Streets, where a planned streetcar maintenance and administrative facility is to be built. The next part of the day, we attended city hall for a meeting on the 10th floor where the City Council Business session was updated about the Kansas City Homeless Task Force, which was a team working to solve the homeless problem in Kansas City.

Now came the hard part: deciding on an angle or point to focus on and write about. If you just write out your notes and print it, it’s not very interesting. The point of good news writing is to make the subject matter interesting and cover the topic thoroughly and objectively.

When the contents are done, the newspaper is ready to be laid out. Kirstie Mulligan, the Art and Creative Director, lays out everything on a computer and decides how each edition of The Northeast News going to look. A draft is printed and everyone proofreads and initials each page as it is completed. Final edits are done by both Mulligan and Managing Editor Joe Jarosz to ensure each page of the paper is grammatically, mechanically and factually correct before uploading each page to a dropbox at the Sedalia Democrat, the company used to print each edition. The printed papers are delivered back to the Northeast News where they are assembled, rolled, bagged, and finally delivered to the you, the reader.

Community journalism for many might be a dying field. Today, however, I learned about how community news and the day to day operation of a community newspaper is a daily part of our lives. The newspaper is a large part of the community, and you don’t see a lot of the stories the Northeast News covers on TV or in the major weekly newspaper. I visited city hall and saw different aspects of the events covered there in the newspaper. These are experiences that I would never have been afforded otherwise. I extended my knowledge and explored my future options in the writing career today. What will you do tomorrow?

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