Skip to content

Special Sections workflow

April 11, 2009
Sunrise Over Ice
Image by Just Us 3 via Flickr

What is the work flow in the Special Sections department?

A list of newspaper supplements is created by the Advertising department. Each supplement has a theme. Some supplements are linked to an event and thus are required to be published during a specific time of the year. This list of newspaper supplements is the Special Sections calendar.

The content for these Special Sections supplements comes from many sources.

Some annual supplements are almost entirely filled with editorial content submitted by a national organization. They may contain editorial submitted by advertisers.

One-time supplements – usually an advertiser  celebrating an anniversary, open house, grand opening, renovation – contain editorial content supplied by that advertiser. Sometimes an independent contractor is needed to flesh out the editorial content, in which case the Special Sections editor hires a freelance writer/photographer to work with the advertiser.

When the newspaper hires an independent contractor to produce editorial content for Special Sections supplements, the freelancer retains the copyright. The newspaper is purchasing first-time publication rights from the freelancer, and permission for publication in any and all of its newspaper products.

Advertisers and others who wish to use the freelancer-produced editorial content in products not owned by the newspaper, for which the newspaper has paid the freelancer, must contact the freelancer directly for that permission and possible payment to the freelancer. That is because the newspaper has paid for the use in its products only.

The Special Sections editor maintains a list of independent contractors, assignments, and payments. The SS editor submits invoices to the VP of Advertising & Marketing, as well as the Payroll department.

For themed supplements such as Weddings, Women, Health, Funerals, Family, and others, the SS editor decides what topics to assign to the freelancers. Budgets may allow for two or more freelancer-produced articles per supplement. The topics are based on the theme of the supplement, to be sure, but also taken into consideration are the advertisers of that supplement. For example, if there are several family counselors advertising in the Family supplement, a freelancer could be assigned to interview three advertisers on a topic such as teen depression.

The inclusion of quotes from advertisers gives the articles a local flavor.
The number of pages in a supplement is determined by the number of ads sold.

So far we have editorial content from national organizations, advertisers, and freelance-produced. The remaining content comes from press releases, news stories, and advertising articles found on the Internet and from editorial content subscription services.

The Special Sections editor works with the SS calendar to make sure editorial content is procured for every supplement. Freelance work is tracked and submitted to payroll.

The Special Sections editor edits stories for grammar, spelling, and to follow the AP Style guidebook as closely as possible. Also, the SS editor formats photos in PhotoShop, adjusting for the best print and web versions.

When the supplement is designed for the print version, the Special Sections editor becomes a paginator and page designer. The SS editor notifies the advertising department of missing or problematic ads.

A copy of the supplement is printed so that the Advertising department can look over it. Every extra set of eyeballs help.

When the supplement has been okayed, the Special Sections editor exports the pages to a folder that prepares the pages for the plate making process. The SS editor must view each page in the folder and check that everything on the digital version of the page looks as it does on the print version.

When each page is approved, the Special Sections editor’s job is finished. The next step in the workflow is pre-press, the department that makes the plates that will then go to the press room.


That’s what I do for the print version.

The online version is simply a list of articles and a list of advertisers found in each supplement. Click on the article title to read the entire article. Click on the advertiser’s name to see a PDF version of their ad.

To get the articles and ads online, I simply fill in a form which activates a script to upload the articles, photos, and ads.

Online readers can leave comments below each article.

Part 3:

Stay tuned for our new Web site in the second half of 2009. The new site will integrate community-building features.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
One Comment leave one →
  1. April 29, 2009 7:41 pm

    Great post. I have been doing some research on classified sites. I am trying to implement a marketing system for my small business, do you have any advice? Are there any marketing software for these kinds of jobs?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: