After the release of our last issue, one of my friends asked me how many crew members were on The Echo, and before I could respond he suggested “like four right?”
I was immediately appalled; surely he couldn’t be serious? Surely he didn’t think that all the writing, photography, editing and design was done by four people? But then I realized: unless you’ve spent any time on this crew, you have no idea just how much work goes into producing the issue you currently hold in your hands.
So, if you’ll allow me this small indulgence of highlighting the work of this fantastic crew in this short letter, I’d be ever so grateful.
The issue you hold in your hands is the result of a two-week process. After we produce one issue, we immediately begin working on the new issue. On the Tuesday after publication, all nine members of the crew come to our crew meeting with story ideas, issues or interesting things we’ve heard and seen around campus and we bring them to the floor, so to speak.
After discussions and rounds of clarifying story angles, we assign multiple stories to each writer– of which we currently have three (including myself)– and assign photos to go along with the stories to our resident photographers, of which we also currently have three.
Writers begin working on their stories, spending multiple hours researching and arranging interviews with students, staff members, and faculty. Often, stories unravel as we delve further into the facts of a situation, or sometimes the story turns out to be much bigger than we expected. All of the sudden, we are organizing a small mountain of information, along with hours of interviews, trying our best to shape and define it into a thorough, unbiased, and entertaining story.
It’s very rare that the story turns out exactly the way we discussed it at the crew meeting, and many story ideas fall to the wayside, never making it to the issue. Often, for each story within these pages, there is another one that a writer pursued only to have it dissolve into nothing.
After a week of writing stories and the photographers (who take way more beautiful photos than we could ever contain in these pages) taking photos around campus, we upload them all for edits. Our photo editor works on the photos while I, my supervisor, and our copy editor work on editing the stories. Often, writers are asked to make changes and sometimes even to get additional information and quotes. In addition, we edit the submissions that come from around the campus community. The editing is a three-day process of refining the stories into the best version of themselves that they can be.
After edits are done for stories and photos, the design process begins. Our two designers spend days working to create the issue with InDesign software. A million little nuances go into each page, and often designers are in the office until the wee hours of the night. The designers are in constant communication with me, the photo editor and the other crew members as they put together each page.
After the intensive few days of design, the color pages are sent to the College Press on the day before publication so the color ink has more time to dry. Then, at 8am on publication Thursday, a designer sends the rest of the issue– the black and white pages– to the College Press. Around 11am various crew members begin to pick up the issue and distribute it around campus. We then meet as a crew over lunch to review the issue, celebrate what we did well, and note changes to be made on the next one.
On Friday, the day after the print issue is released, the crew makes sure all the stories then go up on our website, updates all our social media outlets, and updates our mutimedia outlets, such as our blog, Reverb, where our videographer posts her work. We take the weekend to relax and appreciate the product we put out before the entire process starts again.
I say all of this not to complain about our workload, as all students on Wilson crews work extremely hard. Instead, I say all of this to give you a taste of the inner workings of The Echo, in the hopes that you can appreciate the pages in your hand more thoroughly and, in turn, appreciate this tradition of creating a newspaper for the campus that has existed for over forty years.
Our crew works this hard because we have the genuine desire to provide an unbiased, credible, and entertaining news source for our fellow students. In the future, perhaps you’ll see The Echo as more than just something to pick up for two seconds to distract yourself during lunch, and instead you’ll see it as a robust, informative, and essential resource for the Wilson community.