Steve Buttry meditated yesterday on recapturing the joy and excitement of journalism, offering some valuable suggestions. I have another. Relish the work.
I mean the real work, not the attend-multiple-meetings, pretend-crap-is-better-than-it-is routines that eat into the day, and I have fresh examples.
Last night, as we were closing the final edition of the paper, word started leaking out that an arrest had been made in the killing of Phylicia Barnes, a teenager from North Carolina who disappeared and whose body was subsequently found in the Susquehanna River, a story we had been following for months.
Kim Walker, on the metro desk, was taking information from Justin Fenton, our crack police reporter. Steve Young, the news editor, checked the press run and found that we had a chance of catching an appreciable number of papers. Jay Judge made some quick design changes on Page One and the jump pages. Kim shipped us a short version of the article for Page One and continued editing the story for the website. Steve and I made the changes in the original Page One stories and edited and checked the new one. Typeset.
That's the way it's supposed to work. You get information, you confirm it, you write it up, you get it online, and you get it into print, quickly, efficiently, professionally. And it feels good to do it.
Earlier yesterday, we were finishing a major project. The Sun turns 175 years old this year, and the May edition of the Sun Magazine will be a commemorative issue, edited by Tim Swift and Anne Tallent, and designed by Jay Judge (the same Jay Judge who was finishing up production of the magazine while also designing daily pages).
The magazine is not a get-it-out-fast project, but an old-fashioned do-it-right project. Edit the articles closely. Revise and re-edit. Copy-edit the articles. Proofread the articles. Then check them again. Work on the photo captions. Work on the headlines. Coordinate with the designer. Coordinate with advertising. Take innumerable pains to get it done right.
When the magazine appears next month, it will be a handsome publication, with articles by members of the staff* and contributors, along with photographs, that will amuse and move readers, all to celebrate the way that this unlikely institution touches the people who work at it and the people who are informed by it.
To complete work on a major project and deal effectively with a breaking Page One story on the same day is uncommon, but it shows that the satisfactions of the work, the real work, the serious work, have not been lost.
*I have a little contribution in it myself, on the paper's propensity for errors.