Inside Scoop - Week 0 (and corrections)By Kunal Mehta
Inside Scoop is a weekly column about the operation of the Spartan Daily, San Jose State's student newspaper.
This week the new editorial staff (led by me) took over production of the paper, with assistance from the outgoing editors, and on Thursday, we were supposed to do it all by ourselves (mostly).
On Monday night we finished at 1:00am exactly, Tuesday night was around 12:45am, and Wednesday night around 1:30am. The last one isn't a regression, since we had 2 extra pages, plus a doubletruck (a two-page spread) and a late story waiting on the San Jose Sharks game to end.
That said, we should be aiming to get out before or around midnight, regardless of the number of pages and content.
The leading story on Tuesday was about how the new recreation center on campus prohibits photography (including selfies), and most students don't know about that. We only found out about it when trying to take photos for another story (see: Wednesday) and weren't allowed to. At around 5pm Monday afternoon we switched out the main story on the front page in favor of this one that was yet to be written. This definitely didn't help with our production time, but in my opinion, made for a better paper.
We spent too much time figuring out which stories had been edited, and by whom. We didn't yet have the communication channels set up and expectations clear, causing a lot of confusion and unnecessary micromanagement. I think we rectified most of this for the next issue.
As a chaos monkey test, in the template pages we were given, the date was spelled "Tuessday" to see if any of us would run spell check or catch it by eye. We failed. Thankfully the printer caught it when reviewing the pages to make sure they were transmitted OK, and we were able to fix it before print.
The biggest issue in this paper was that none of the photos taken in it were by Spartan Daily photographers. While there's no technical problem per se, it still makes me feel bad.
Things really started clicking on Tuesday afternoon. Most of our stories went through edits pretty early, and pages were laid out quickly...except for news. We didn't get the hand scanner photos until late in the afternoon, leading to uncertainty about which stories we'd be running, and where on the page they'd be going. We also got a great campus image that had us push the story that was supposed to go in that space to the next day.
Thanks to El Espartano Noticias, the Spanish language journalism club, page 3 is entirely in Spanish, and features stories aimed at Spanish-speaking students. This is our second Spanish page this semester, and I'm hopefully that we can increase the frequency next semester.
I'm pretty proud of this paper. We pulled off a pretty decent doubletruck spotlighting Graduation as our final scheduled issue. It's not perfect, but I think it gives us a good idea of the amount of work that goes into doing these kinds of spotlight packages. With proper planning, I am confident we can do them once a week.
Due to some last minute changes, we ended up running two medical media literacy stories that should've been packaged together since the basic premise of both is the same (debunked rumors about an outbreak of a disease).
The back page with the Sharks Game 7 win turned out really nice since we were able to have one reporter focus on writing the story and another shooting photos.
One thing I'm doing very differently than predecessors is running more corrections. I've taken a more liberal stance when it comes to printing corrections, that as long as it is factually wrong, we'll correct it. We already have two corrections lined up for the first print issue next semester.
Some people view corrections as something that looks bad, since we messed up. I think running corrections underscores our commitment to getting the facts right, to the point where we're happy to admit that we're wrong so we can put out the correct information. In my view, corrections make a paper look good.