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Special Sections Editor workflow

November 20, 2010

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 on a specific date. This list of newspaper supplements is the Special Sections calendar.


The content for these Special Sections supplements comes from many sources which are funneled through the editor.


Some annual supplements are almost entirely filled with editorial content submitted by an organization. Examples include, an event committee could supply the entire content – stories and photos – for an annual event such as a festival, a fundraising event, or a trade show.


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


When Special Sections 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/online products.


Advertisers and others who wish to use the freelancer-produced editorial content in products not affiliated with the newspaper – content 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 of that editorial content in its newspaper/online 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, Family, and others, after discussion with the editorial team, 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 family counselors usually advertise in the Family supplement, a freelancer could be assigned to write on a topic such as teen depression.


The editorial content is geared toward the audience. The inclusion of quotes from local experts gives the articles a local flavor.


The number of pages in a supplement is determined by the number of ad inches sold.


So far we have editorial content from organizations, advertisers, and freelance-produced. The remaining content comes from press releases, news stories, and feature articles 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. Text and photos need to be entered in the Content Management System.


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 proofread 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 digitally 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.


PART 2: Web version


That’s what I do for the print version.


The web version is a list of articles found in each supplement. Click on the article title to read the entire article. When entering stories and photos in the CMS, a web version is created simultaneously.


Online readers can leave comments below each article.


A PDF version of the print edition is also uploaded and can be found on the newspaper’s website.


Part 3:


Stay tuned for our new Special Sections website coming soon. The new site will integrate community-building features with behind-the-scenes and contact information.

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