Friday, January 7, 2011

Nearly alone in the newsroom

Years ago, I was the slot guy for the sports section two or three (or more) nights a week. I was in charge of deciding what went on each page. I'd hand out assignments to the other copy editors, lay out the sports front and the jump page, and backread the stories that the other editors edited.

I went in a little early one afternoon, and there was one person in the sports department. The prep (high school) writer came in during the afternoon, and he thought he was going home early. He didn't own a car, and getting an early ride was important to him. On any given night, at least one person was supposed to be helping me. I think I was supposed to have two copy editors on this night.

By five o'clock, it was obvious I wasn't going to have any help, and I told a protesting Jack that he had to stay to help. I got the managing editor to take my place in the budget meeting, and I had a page laid out by the time she got out of the meeting. Every few minutes, Jack would say he had to go home; each time, I said no ... emphatically.

It was baseball season, and we had three editions. I flailed through three editions and six or eight mostly open pages, and Jack took 67 inches of state and area report by telephone. Jack, who was probably disgusted with me at this point, was gone right after first edition came out. I answered phones after he left, and I was late for two of the three editions.

The next day, no one asked me what had happened, and no one complained that I'd been late.

If they had, I'd have raised hell. IT AIN'T SUPPOSED TO BE THAT WAY!

P.S.:  Interestingly, the night editor at the local newspaper went through the same thing last year (although he wasn't laying out pages, as I was, and he didn't have as many phones to answer as we did). He found humor in it; I never have.

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1 comment:

  1. This sounds familiar. As the prepress director at a daily I would get 2am phone calls if someone else couldn't pull their own weight. That wasn't funny either.