The Chronicle of Duke University- An exhibit commemorating 100 years of a student publication
"A Day in the Life of The Chronicle"
From the September 2, 1993 issue
5 p.m. Photographers, section editors, and editors assemble in Weasel's Place to plan the next day's paper. Editors describe each of the stories as the executive editor fires questions at them to make sure that all the angles are covered. The front page and the importance of the stories are determined at budget. The copy chief for the evening gets layouts and begins to layout the paper. Unlike reporters, stories pay no attention to the 5 p.m. deadline. For example, last spring, ASDU reported that a candidate for president of student government had filed a slander complaint as budget was ending, and the reporter began researching the story at 6:30 p.m. The article wasn't finished until 4 a.m.
6 p.m. Editors help assistants and associates copy edit stories. Copy editing can last anywhere from five minutes to three hours, depending on the complexity of the story. After stories are edited, they are electronically sent to be produced on Macintoshes.
7 p.m. The copy chief for the night finishes layouts of the next day's paper after struggling to count inches and make stories fit.
7:30 p.m. Wire editors report for duty. They use The Chronicle's wire service to determine which national and international stories will be run in the paper.
7:45 p.m. The editorial page editors begin work on their section. Columnists have finished their pieces at least a day in advance, and by early evening, the unsigned editorial should be finished. The newspaper's unsigned editorial represents the majority opinion of the editorial board.
8 p.m. All stories should be copy edited, except for late-breaking stories such as evening speeches. The copy chief then begins checking every story that is running. Though reporters don't stay for the final edit, copy chiefs have been known to call reporters as late as 1 or 2 a.m. to check on a fact in a story.
8:15 p.m. Assignment editors begin the after dinner ritual of calling reporters to ask them to write stories for the next day. Generally, editors will call at least four or five people for every story they assign.
9 p.m. Wire editors plan stories and draw layouts. Occasionally, a late-breaking national story forces the copy chief to redo the entire paper. When the Gulf War started in January of 1991, the wire editors and the copy chief had to scrap the front page and start again.
10:30 p.m. The production staff starts laying out stories on the Macintosh computers.
11 p.m. Copy deadline for late stories. Ideally, everything should be written by now, but sometimes, circumstances make this impossible. For example, reporters covering the Democratic and Republican headquarters for local and national elections did not return to the office until close to midnight, and their stories weren't finished until 1 or 2 a.m.
12 a.m. The copy chief should be halfway through laying out and reading through stories in the news section. The sports staff is finishing up its section. Wire editors may be done or could have a long way to go depending on how many pages they have to fill.
1 a.m. The associate photography editor crops most of the photos for the upcoming issue. The copy chief checks to see how much longer it will take to finish the issue and will call the watch dog, the staff member who proofreads the paper before it goes to press.
2 a.m. The watch dog reads the paper, and the copy chief triple checks the paper with a sleepy eye looking for any last minute corrections. The production staff calls the printer about 45 minutes before the paper is done.
2:15 a.m. The production staff tapes down the last of the proof-read pages. Once in a while, the copy chief forgets to tell the wire editors about a page, and someone discovers a large blank spot around 2:30 a.m. The copy chief will then scream, panic, and then find another wire story to go in the empty space.
2:30 a.m. The printer arrives to pick up the paper. While 2 a.m is the target deadline, nights sometimes go as late as 5 or 6 a.m, particularly early in the year when the staff is still learning how to get out the paper.
From the September 2, 1993 issue of The Chronicle
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