Posted by: Ciaran | March 19, 2010

Production day fourteen

Today was the pressure day: the news editor’s chair. It felt like a long time since I’d done anything similar – it’s almost exactly a year since I finished editing my student newspaper at the University of Sheffield.

Thankfully, it didn’t take me long to fall in to old habits of being religiously organised and trying to keep on top of everything. After a juddery start in some respects, our production days have really taken shape now and it feels exactly like a real newsroom.

My colleagues all made my job pretty simple by bringing in some great off-diary stories and going out and nailing everything which myself and Alex Smith, my deputy on the newsdesk, gave to them.

The main difference from my previous experience of editing was the speed with which everything moved. Because the paper which I edited when I was an undergrad was fortnightly it would be ticking away all the time and then we’d normally have one frantic day just before the deadline.

Admittedly we were producing vastly more copy in each individual issue, but the slow-burn meant that stories were coming up and being spiked fairly gradually throughout the two weeks. On a daily, the stories come in and drop at a far more frantic pace, and there are a lot of snap judgements which have to be made.

So I guess that’s the main thing that was drummed in to me today – no matter how much you plan, if it all goes down the tubes at the last minute then the real skill is in making the right decision as to how to fix the gaping hole in the paper which you’re inevitably left with.

Difficult as it is to stay calm, a cool head and a quick bit of rational thought should be enough to see you through.

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