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The remarkable newspaper machine

Published April 20. 2013 09:02AM

The newspaper that's delivered to your front door and the content appearing on the Internet are the result of teamwork as special as that of any sports team.

And it's easy to compare a newspaper staff to a sports team.

But I like to think of a newspaper operation as a giant, well-oiled machine.

Of course, readers are an important part of the machine. They're the foundation. Each published story tells of events that help shape readers' daily lives. Many stories depict slices of life, or glimpses into our routines. And that makes each day's newspaper a chronicle of our times and an important tool for readers.

In a sense, the articles belong to the readers and that's the way it should be. Newspapers exist for readers.

But all of this wouldn't happen without loyal subscribers and advertisers.

Subscriptions and paid advertising are a major component of the machine. Ads are an important service to merchants and their customers. And the revenue from paid advertising helps to fund the newspaper operation and allows the machine to work.

Then there are page composition and layout folks who create the appearance of the paper, working with text and images.

Their skills make the newspaper pleasant to look at and inviting to read.

As for the printing process, production of the paper utilizes highly-technical equipment.

I was given a tour of the presses that print the TIMES NEWS and it is a humbling experience.

The presses look like something from a Star Wars movie. Printing presses are as large as houses. They even have ladders and walkways or gangways. Very intimidating. When I stand next to a printing press, I'm a munchkin. And not even a large munchkin.

Truth be told, I'm a munchkin even when not standing next to a press. In today's PC world, we call it "vertically challenged."

In any case, when you work for a newspaper, you sometimes wear multiple hats. And that's fine. I'm a hat person.

But I hope I'm never expected to fill in for anyone who operates those presses.

"Thank goodness I'm only expected to write," I said. "If someone asked me to run this printing monstrosity, I wouldn't have a clue. I'd jam that machine in two seconds flat, or maybe blow it up."

Then there is a circulation department that figures out how to deliver newspapers to gosh-knows-how-many towns in several counties. I have no idea how this is done. It obviously has something to do with multitasking.

Naturally, cooperation is vital in all of these steps. It takes each person doing his or her job correctly in order to get the paper on the street each day.

There is abundant talent evident in every step of the process.

When I see these folks perform their jobs, it makes me realize that those of us who edit and create text, or what we call "copy," are only a very small cog in one very large machine.

It also makes this cog appreciate the role of all of the others. There are many tasks that this cog wouldn't know how to do. Heck, there are some days when I don't even know how to be a cog.

But at all times, I do know that it's a privilege to be part of the TIMES NEWS, the best-running machine around and the best readers too.

It's an honor to be entrusted with telling people's stories. Like the newspaper machine, each is remarkable in its own way.

Each person is special and so is each story. And that's why the stories need to be told.

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