Running a newspaper in a small town can pose unique challenges not found in other businesses in a small town.
• Diverse viewpoints.
• Questions as to whether you can truly edit a newspaper.
• Complaints about covering hard news vs. all happy news.
• Requests to bury hard news in the back of the paper to hide the fact that we actually are not a paradise, but a town with all the issues that come with any small town.
• Drumming up enough advertising to keep the paper going.
• Particularly today, competing with social media on both “news” (most often rumor) and advertising.
• Supporting causes that benefit the community and, in turn, the health of the newspaper, without giving away advertising.
• Covering as much news as possible, particularly with an unusual number of governmental entities meeting.
• Having enough photographers to cover town events.
• Keeping the calendars up-to-date that we publish each week for all the entities on the Hill.
• Meeting printer deadlines.
• Meeting post office deadlines.
And then, like last week, dealing with bumps such as a heavy snowstorm that kept employees from making it to work. And then, a glitch in the mailing software we use after a postal rate change that prevented some important papers from being printed that the post office required before putting the newspaper in your mail boxes.
Mondays and Tuesdays, I work straight through without a break until evening. It involves not just editing, but writing, researching, choosing photos and laying out the news content for the composers.
Lately, I’ve taken to skipping the news meeting JP runs on Wednesday morning to give myself a breather after taking off my editor’s cap and putting on a management cap for the rest of the week.
But you never really take off either cap, as while I’m editing, I’m often interrupted with important financial questions from the bookkeeper and advertising questions from staff.
While dealing with the business management side of the whole publishing company, I’m often interrupted to discuss a news story, or to run off and take a photo of a breaking news event, or at least assign someone to do so.
Certain parts of the job are predictable. I keep a tab on the Editor’s Log of how many tasks are left at any one time, say Monday before leaving to have dinner with our weekly sextet, or where I stand by noon Tuesday.
What governmental agencies’ have standing meetings so we always know we’ll have that story the following week. What other meetings we know are coming up so we know to expect those in the upcoming edition.
Other things are not predictable. We never know when a disaster may hit, such as the Monday the Mountain Fire started and, as it grew, our Editor’s Log changed while we dropped stories to cover this one.
I’ve often said, disasters and babies often are born on deadline days. The German tourists were gunned down on a Monday. Even 9/11 occurred on a Tuesday. One of my grandchildren was born on a Tuesday.
I used to have a running list of things that occurred on deadline dates but my memory skills aren’t what they used to be. Maybe my brain’s storage capacity is reaching its limit. Wish I could buy more space for it in the Cloud.
Becky Clark, Editor