Trading Pages

Jan 12, 2014 by

Ah, the joys of running a newspaper.

Alert readers probably noticed something a wee bit amiss with last Saturday’s newspaper. If you didn’t catch it, don’t worry. It took me awhile, too, although I knew something wasn’t right. Sort of like you walk into your home after work and you know someone is in trouble, you just hope it’s not you.

I’ll get to that little mishap in a second.

Newspapers, as a business, are a breed apart from most others. Most companies do one thing — they are in production, making something; or advertising/sales; or marketing; or logistics and distribution; or some time of service — accountants, medical, legal, etc.

Newspapers do all the above. We create a product — the newspaper. We are involved in sales (advertising); we market our product; we produce our product; and finally, we distribute the product.

Each day we literally start with a blank sheet of paper. Throughout the day, we fill it with news, sports, features ads, classifieds, comics and much more. At the end of the day, we send those now-filled pages to our printing warehouse, which puts all those pages together and runs the press. The papers are then inserted with advertising supplements and turned over to circulation, which then delivers them to your home.

And the next morning, we start all over from scratch. But before we delve into a new day, everyone looks over that morning’s paper. Did we play the stories right? Are all the ads and inserts in the paper? How’s the color look on photographs and ads?

Which brings us back to last Saturday. There’s another thing we also need to check, although fortunately, it rarely happens. And that’s simply whether or not we have the right pages on the right day.

As I said, I knew something wasn’t right with that day’s paper. For some reason, a classified ad page was right in the middle of the paper. We never do that. They are always at the end of the section.

Pretty soon, I get a call from a fellow employee who figured it out before I did. And now we know.

For probably as long as this paper has existed, there is always a Religion section on Saturday. And sure enough, there was a religion page, but it was the second page.

The front page of the Religion section was missing. In its place, a page of Sunday’s classifieds. Since we’re talking religion, I will use the old cliche and say this was a screwup of biblical proportions. Not only are we missing a major Saturday page, we somehow replaced it with a page meant for Sunday.

And how did this happen? We made a mistake. On Fridays, we send down to the printing warehouse all the pages for Saturday’s and Sunday’s papers.

The aforementioned Religion front page was marked as page 7. The same goes for the Sunday classified page.

Yet somehow we pulled the wrong page 7. And now you know why you didn’t have a Religion front page last Saturday.

Everyone makes mistakes. What frustrates us so much is we are a newspaper, we strive to be accurate in everything we write and publish — and that goes for getting the right pages on the right days. To add insult to injury, when we make a mistake, everyone in town knows about it.

But tomorrow is another day. We will start from scratch again. And we will work diligently to ensure we don’t have another headline like we did awhile back about “Protecting the Pubic.”

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