GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

May 11, 2013

Why Did My Newspaper Do That? A day in the newsroom

Why Did My Newspaper Do That?
Ray Lamont

---- — From time to time, I’ve had people ask what a typical day is like in the Times newsroom. And my answer is almost always the same – there really isn’t any such thing.

That’s especially true when we have aspects of the next day’s Times already planned out, and we’re suddenly faced with some significant breaking news, as happened twice within a three-day period earlier this week. And that can happen, of course, at virtually any time. But I thought it would be fun to give you some sense of the activity that you might see if you spent a day in the Times newsroom.

For while we often focus in this column on news coverage, choices and decisions, the fact is there are a lot more things in play than many readers might think about. And the development of today’s Times and the activity a visitor might have seen in our Whittemore Street newsroom Friday was probably as typical a day as any.

My own first morning project was to firm up our planned list of stories and features that will be coming soon in our annual Cape Ann Summer Guide. At the same time, Community Editor Christina Parisi was handling today’s and Monday’s GoingsOn and calendar listings. And our news reporters began arriving and making phone calls to their sources to begin looking toward their stories planned for today and/or Monday.

My next step was to map out a schedule for today’s stories, recognizing that our lead story (see Page 1) would be on the Beauport Gloucester hotel project and the Pavilion barrier beach issue. That’s because we had received Wednesday’s latest findings by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, and we knew we had a meeting planned with folks from the Port Community Alliance that would give us additional input.

With that, staff writer Marjorie Nesin and I then met with PCA President Jim “Jimmy T” Tarantino and the Alliance’s Nathaniel Mulcahy at 11 a.m. and discussed the many issues in play, after which Marje began working on the story, while fellow news writers Richard Gaines and James Niedzinski worked their stories as well.

There was much more. While all this was happening, Features Editor and Cape Ann magazine editor Andrea Holbrook was working on the magazine’s upcoming issue – due out later this month —while photo chief Allegra Boverman juggled photo assignments for Cape Ann magazine and the Times, all the while setting aside photos for the Summer Guide.

Later still, sports correspondent Conor Walsh checked to confirm his game schedule, just as he and Sports Editor Nick Curcuru regularly confer throughout the week. And Joann Mackenzie arrived to take up her post of augmenting the community listings, then reading and sending our pages through our IT system to be printed Friday night.

Now, you might think that it would be better to tackle one thing at a time — to deal exclusively with the stories for Cape Ann magazine, for our feature pages like our Taste of the Times and The Catch, both coordinated by Andrea — and then throw everyone headlong into our Times news coverage.

Why are so many balls in the air throughout the day? Why does your community’s newspaper do that?

Because for all the planning we try to do, news can break at any time. Because at a daily newspaper, a special section like Summer Guide, or an issue of Cape Ann magazine doesn’t simply come together in a day or even a week. And because your Gloucester Daily Times and our online presentations at gloucestertimes.com don’t simply provide hard news coverage each day; we also offer dozens of community news and event postings, we cover our local high school and other sports teams, we develop and produce other sections and magazines that are all geared toward their own time frames — and because everyone here at the Times has a different role to play.

That’s why you’ll often here me talk about our Gloucester Daily Times “team” — not just our news team, but our colleagues in advertising and circulation as well. Each day’s newspaper, each special guide section, each edition of Cape Ann magazine, is a special presentation that evolves — throughout the day, or over a period of weeks. And all of it indeed takes a lot of juggling, cooperation and teamwork, just as it did on Friday.

As always, let me know what you think.

Questions? Comments? Is there a topic you’d like to see addressed in a future column? Contact Times Editor Ray Lamont at 978-283-7000, x3432, or at rlamont@gloucestertimes.com