It takes a lot of different kinds of people to make the world go round — and to make a newspaper.
The people I know best are the newsroom folks. Reporters who walk into the newsroom after an interview and have a great and likely humorous story to share — that won’t make it in print. And editors who ask, with palpable urgency, “Where’s that story?,” referring to the one that should have published online an hour ago.
Meetings focus on how a story is coming along, who else does the reporter need to talk with and will the story be ready for the next print edition.
There’s a sense of being in this together, as crazy as things may get some time. A feeling of greater purpose in providing accurate information to readers and holding community leaders accountable. A shared joy in crafting words in just the right order. And there are plenty of inside jokes, which just don’t hit the same outside a newsroom.
The newsroom is where I feel at home. Understood.
My new role as director of audience, though, is taking me in some new directions.
I was talking with a co-worker this week when she got a phone call from one of her employees who had met a goal. “I’m so excited for you!”
What seemed a normal conversation to them sounded foreign to me. This is not how newsroom folks talk.
I mean, they can get excited about a story, but I’ve never had an editor exclaim they were excited for me. Newsroom folks generally abhor exclamation points, actually.
Great story. Nice lead. Sure.
You hit your goal! That’s terrific! Nope. That may as well be another language.
And their meetings — I went to one this week, and it was so strange. They talk about how many contacts they’ve made and whether they’ve met their goals.
To put it in language I understand better, it’s like if a reporter went over how many sources they called that day and whether they got as many pageviews on their story as they had hoped. Maybe there’s something to this type of meeting focus after all.
Meanwhile, downstairs you’ve got a bunch of guys who probably have their own language, too, but I don’t know what it is. I just know they make the press work, and you’re not going to see any reporters or sales reps doing that.
These guys drive forklifts to get giant rolls of paper from the warehouse to the press. They tinker with that machine doing who knows what to adjust ink levels and churn out thousands of copies of newspapers. They can look at a broken machine and usually figure out how to make it work. My brain isn’t wired that way. I can look at a mess of a story and make it work. I cannot look at a part on a press — or a car or even a kids toy — and fix it.
Then there are the technical folks — they’re pretty good at fixing things, too.
Tinkering on the digital nuts and bolts of a website or analytics report or subscription rate card is not my jam. I’ve learned a lot about some of it in the past few weeks, but please just let me get at what that analytics report says so I can distill it and convey it to those newsroom folks.
And I’m excited about finding ways to tell readers why they should subscribe, but man the behind the scenes of how those subscriptions are processed is complicated. I won’t bore you with the technical specifics. Then there are the accounting folks who make sure all of that and everything else gets counted correctly.
Creative writers, enthusiastic sales reps, mechanical problem solvers, data analyzers, number crunchers — they’re all a vital part of the newspaper operation.
We do not always understand each other, and I can see why — we’re very different. But I’m sure glad they do what they do. Actually, I love seeing how much they enjoy their job — a job I may want no part of whatsoever. It takes all kinds — and we’ve got all kinds.
If you want to hear more about all the different pieces of the puzzle that come together to bring you local news, join me on a subscriber tour. There’s one coming up Oct. 10. Register at gainesvilletimes.com/tour.
Shannon Casas is director of audience for Metro Market Media, parent company of The Times. She is a North Hall resident.