Some things just never get easier
It’s a fact of life in the newspaper biz.
Daily newspapers face them, well, every day. That is why they are called daily newspapers. Usually sometime in the evening hours the staff has to get the finished pages sent off to the printing plant where the papers are printed, folded and prepared for mail or carrier delivery in the wee hours of the morning.
Weekly newspapers face a deadline, well, every week. That is why they are called weeklies. Many have their deadlines on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Here at the Register, our deadline is early Friday morning. We have to fire that week’s edition off to the printing plant in Madelia where it is printed, advertising flyers are inserted, 3,000 copies are labeled with subscribers’ mailing addresses and another thousand or so are bundled for delivery to stores, carriers and our office.
The entire process is completed by Friday afternoon and delivery made here in Blue Earth early on Saturday morning. It will hit the newsstands on Saturday morning, be carrier delivered on Saturday or Sunday, and be in local reader’s mailboxes on Monday morning.
Almost every Friday we are scrambling to try and get in the latest sports stories and photos from Thursday night events. We have saved room for them, but it is still an effort to write the stories, work on the pictures and then lay it all out so it fits.
And, do it fast. Very fast.
Quite often an unexpected news event happens on Thursday night and we rush to get it in the newspaper. After all, if we don’t, that news event will be at least eight to 10 days old by the time our next edition of the Register comes out on the following Saturday/Sunday/Monday.
The famous Kerry fire about seven years ago is a prime example. It happened on a Thursday night.
That week’s edition of the Register already had been worked on, the front page all put together. But the staff completely tore the paper apart on Friday morning to add stories and photos of the fire.
Under deadline pressure.
Over the past few years there are many more cases of remaking the paper to get a Thursday night news event in.
Last week was another case of that.
The tragic accident which took the life of a Blue Earth Area High School student happened on Thursday night. On Friday morning, when we were facing deadline pressure, very few facts were available.
A press release by law enforcement officials had very few details, not even the names of the victims. And as it turned out, it had the wrong ages for the victims.
We were able to learn the names and details of the accident, but we used the wrong ages, because we were following the press release.
We also added information on how the BEA school staff was handling the tragic news at the school on Friday morning.
And, yes, we ran a photo of the truck involved in the fatal accident.
We covered the news. It is what we do.
We have had to do it many times over the years a fatal car-train crash, a car hitting a semi-truck head on which killed a local man and a house fire where two men were killed inside, just to name a few. Just two weeks ago it was plane crash photos showing rescue workers trying to free the victim and the fuselage of the plane that he died in.
Are we insensitive to these kinds of stories and photos?
It may seem so, I guess, to some readers. And that is certainly their right to feel that accident photos, a miscellaneous headline written before the accident occurred or even this column itself, especially with the word ‘deadline’ used repeatedly, is offensive.
The truth is, however, we don’t think we are insensitive. In fact, we are deeply affected by what we have to do as part of our job sometimes.
Our Register employees are members of the community like everyone else, and like everyone else, we were shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic death of a young person in our town. As parents and grandparents, we can think of no more terrible thing than losing one of our children or grandchildren.
Our hearts went out to the Rorman family, as did our thoughts and prayers. It was the same for most of the residents of the Blue Earth area, whether they knew the young man and his family or not.
These stories of tragedy affect us all.
Even newspaper editors who have been doing this job for 40 years. It never gets any easier.
And, it shouldn’t.