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Panpa Bulletin : August September 2007
48 PANPA Bulletin August-September 2007 Many small-newspaper editors are one-armed paper-hangers. They're so busy doing so many tasks that it's a wonder the paper ever gets to press on deadline. Somehow, they muddle through -- and most do it well. However, there are day-to-day and deadline-to-deadline practices every editor can adopt so he or she is no longer frantic. With these, the editor is free to spend time on design that excels. Here are some suggestions: Plan your day Over time, you'll develop a sense of how long it usually takes you to chat with reporters, how long to edit and design the usual number of pages, how long to answer phone calls and how long to deal with that late ad. Work these tasks into a schedule. Once you do, you'll know at any time if you're running behind -- or if you've got ex- tra time to spend on a design that you want to give some extra attention. Plan your coverage You can't know when the Northern & Western train that rumbles through your town is going to derail. But you can know when Christmas is coming. Or Mother's Day. Work on coverage and design ideas for these stories months ahead of time. That will give you scads of time to decide, define and design those special packages. Delegate There's no reason for you to spend valu- able editing time inputting a list of honour roll students. You've been hired to be an editor, not a typist. And when you have a particularly im- portant story (when that train derails?), be ready to hand-off some work to others. Any sports page designer, for example, shouldn't have too much trouble putting together the obits page on a very busy evening. Create priorities If you're on deadline, it's probably more important for you to finish up the design of page one than to handle a phone call from someone who didn't like your coverage of last night's county supervisors meeting. Earlier in your day, it's probably more important to chat with reporters about their stories for the evening than it is to try to fix the newsroom copy machine yourself. Lock in meetings Make it clear to your reporters and editors that you expect them to be at the weekly long-term planning meeting. With each person missing, there's one less valu- able contributor to your overall effort. Start -- and end -- meetings on time If someone comes in late, don't spend your time catching them up. Place that responsibility on their shoulders. Having to repeat yourself takes valuable time from you and from others who came on time. One valuable trick -- set a timer for the length of time you want the meeting to run. Place it where all can see how much time is left. When the timer goes off, get up and leave. After a few such departures, all those involved will get the idea that meetings are sessions where time is valuable and idle chit-chat just doesn't have a place. Expect the unexpected Build extra time into your day to allow for the extra-long phone call, the visit from the upset basketball coach who wants you to fire your young sports editor, the ad rep who wants to talk with you about an idea for a special section. If you know it really only takes you two hours to edit and design your daily batch of pages, why not allow yourself closer to three hours? And if the unexpected doesn't occur, you have that extra hour to spend on making the design of those pages even better. Rid yourself of the stu that doesn't matter Remember that it's not your job to fix the copy machine. Or to take I-didn't-get-my- paper calls. Or to take high school basket- ball scores. It's your job to give your readers a news- paper that's well-written, well-edited and well-designed. Set yourself free to do so. ED HENNINGER is an independent newspaper consultant and the Director of Henninger Consulting, which provides newspaper design services including redesigns, workshops, training and evalu- ations. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.henningerconsulting.com. The one-armed paper-hanger editor-designer part 2 Ed Henninger continues his practical advice for editors-cum-designers in small newspapers If you know it really only takes you two hours to edit and design your daily batch of pages, why not allow yourself closer to three hours? If the unexpected doesn't occur, you have that extra hour to spend on making the design of those pages even better. design matters For the editor who works e ciently, deadlines seem to matter less