COLUMN:Daily staff lives off passion for news

Andrea Hauser

“Journalism will kill you, but it keeps you alive while you’re at it.” – Horace Greeley

As I’ve gone through the year, several people have asked me about the number of hours staff at the Daily spend working at the paper. They’re always surprised when I answer, a sympathetic look coming across their faces.

The 40-50 hours Daily staff spend in the office every week may seem like a lot – because it is. But it’s all part of having a fire for journalism, a real passion for what this job involves. So, how do we spend all this time?

8 a.m. to noon – The office is open, but the newsroom is still pretty quiet, with some reporters and editors drifting in and out between classes. I’m usually in about 10 a.m. since it’s the best time to get some work done before class and catch up with people in the office.

Noon to 3 p.m. – This is when the Daily really starts hopping. Editors are checking on the stories they’ve signed out, updating the budget. The budget is a list of stories editors are planning for the coming week. Reporters are also working hard; their deadline for stories is 3 p.m. Between people telling stories, talking on the phone or debating about the latest news issue, things can get pretty loud.

3 to 4 p.m. – This is one of the busiest parts of the newsroom’s day. Once the reporters have their stories done, editors begin reviewing what they have, updating the budget and assigning new stories for the coming issues. It may sound pretty straightforward, but the number of people involved creates a different variable every day.

4 p.m. – Budget time. It all comes together here. The newsroom managing editor prints off copies of the budget and editors from every section head into the break room to talk about what’s planned for the coming issue. We go through each section’s stories, highlighting the interesting points and looking at its visuals. As editors talk about the stories, the content of the paper starts to take its shape for the coming day. Page one is the most coveted spot in the newspaper, since everyone sees it first. Newsworthiness, timeliness and the quality of writing all play in to what goes on front, and people usually have a good idea of where everything should go by the end of the meeting.

4:30 p.m. to ? – Edit board, one of the most dynamic parts of the Daily day. Sometimes the edit board knows right away what we want to talk about, sometimes we have to look a little. We all try to keep up on the news throughout the day so we can go into the meeting prepared to talk. Debate can take anywhere from an hour, to an hour and a half, to two hours, depending on what the topic is. It’s one of the most interesting parts of the day, because even when people don’t agree, their passion and ideas drive the discussion.

4:30 to 7:30 p.m. – While the edit board debates, editors in the newsroom work at editing stories and sending them to the copy desk. This can get pretty crazy sometimes, especially if there’s something wrong with the story, like only having one source or no quotes in the entire piece. Since the editor is responsible for the story, they are also responsible for fixing it, which can be very time-consuming.

6:30 to around 11 p.m. – As editors finish with their stories, they send them on to the copy desk to be edited again and laid out on the page. There are five copy editors, each in charge of certain pages such as sports, A&E and inside news. The content managing editor lays out the front and back pages and manages the copy desk. Copy editors also proofread each page twice, correcting any additional problems and sending them to the printer in Webster City. Then we go home.

Of course, all it takes is a breaking news story to add another hour or two to this schedule – that’s what the news is all about.

And sometimes our fire for journalism burns a little low, because the news never stops and it takes a lot of energy to keep up with it. Luckily, we have Friday and Saturday to rekindle.

Andrea Hauser is a senior in journalism and mass communication from Edgewood. She is editor in chief of the Daily.