The inner workings of a newsroom

The neatly arranged stack of newspapers that lie in newspaper stands across Lehigh’s campus take a lot of time, effort and people to put together. But unless you’re a part of the team of editors that put The Brown and White together, you would glance at them and not even think about how much time they take to put together – I know I didn’t before I became one of these editors.

Well let me tell you something, getting a print newspaper out twice a week almost every week of the school year is harder than it seems. A team of around 30 editors, nearly 100 writers and a team of photographers are all essential for the newspaper to print.

So how do I even begin to explain the work? I guess I could go over what we do each press night and go from there.

What are Press Nights?

Press nights are what we call our production days. They happen each Wednesday, from 4 p.m. with a midnight deadline, and Sunday, from noon with an 8 p.m. deadline. These are the days that we edit, lay out and do everything that needs to be done for the print (and web) version of the paper.

There are three distinct groups that work together to make press night run smoothly and those are: Editorial editors, visals editors and design editors.

The editorial side of things is undoubtedly one of the biggest part of the paper because, well, without the words we wouldn’t have one! This group of editors is divided into smaller groups fro each of the sections: News, Lifestyle, Sports and Opinion. Each section has a section editor that oversees the section’s staff and manages content, visuals and design in tandem with visuals and design editors.¬†All sections, not including opinion, then have Associate editors and Assistant editors with determined roles and responsibilities.

Visuals works on photos, and they also have a Section editor, Associates and assistants for each section. As for design, each section has their own design editor who is in charge of a specific section.

How do all these jobs and the jobs of the Managing Editor and Editor in Chief come together?

Press Night

Once press night starts, Associate editors for each section come and do first reads on their section’s articles. Which reminds me – writers are a big part of the process. If they’re story needs to be reworked, isn’t in on time or has a lot of mistakes, it can set back press night by a lot of time. Back to associates: they do their reads while the section editors talk to both their associate visuals editor – to look at the pictures sent in by photographers (same story as the writers. Bad photos or no photos can significantly set back press night) – and designers – to talk about lay out and design for the pages.

Once associates are done reading, the visuals associates have been informed which photos to process and the designers are figuring out what they lay out will look like. Then section editors do second read on stories, and after that pass them up to Managing editor reads and Editor in Chief reads.

While Managing and EIC do reads,¬†Associates, Assistants and Section editors meet up in their respective sections and discuss article ideas to schedule out for a week. The ideas are discussed as a whole group and approved by the ME and EIC. The associates get to work writing memos – which detail what the story should be about, who to contact, when it’s due etc. Later, the Assistant editors, whose chief job is to assign stories to a pool of writers that they manage, choose a writer to write the story, and create a post in wordpress for them.

After budget meetings and all of the reads, once the lay out is done the EIC puts all the pages together and prints them out. Section editors as well as the ME and EIC comb through the pages for mistakes in captions, headlines, articles etc. and make final edits.

The paper is then made into a PDF and submitted.


It’s confusing isn’t it? Maybe the accompanying visual helps.The Brown and White

The point I’m trying to make here though is that the process requires a lot of people, working together to accomplish one thing: the printing of the newspaper. One missed step in the process can cause a whole lot of damage come press night, and after 8 hours (often times more) of working on this paper we feel like it’s our baby.

So next time you pick up a newspaper look at all the elements in the page. There might be three stories by three authors and two pictures by two photographers but now you’ll see beyond the bylines into the press room and know that more than 5 people works to put that single page together.