A DAY IN THE LIFE
By 3 a.m. most students at Grand Valley State University are tucked into bed or finishing up the last sentences of their paper due in the morning. The Lanthorn editors are pouring yet another cup of coffee. You see, it takes a lot of coffee to print this newspaper for you (wonderful and much-loved) folks who take the time to pick up a copy. Luckily, we all love coffee we love our job…well sometimes… sort of.
Let’s get back to 3 a.m. It’s the night before a deadline and the editors are slurping their black sludge and clacking away at the keyboard. They’ve got to get their article written. Then they’ve got to edit all their writers’ articles.
Depending on the section, this means an editor is responsible for a range of 4-8 stories. Remember the Lanthorn comes out twice a week? Yeah, that means that on top of classes, editors have an additional 8-16 assignments due each week. And unlike assignments for school, a single error or typo could mean a flurry of angry emails zooming into their email’s inbox.
BEEP BEEP. Crap. There’s only one thing a text at 3:30 a.m. can be, and it’s not a booty call. There’s no time for that. It’s the dreaded, “I’m so sorry, my article fell through” text. It happens to even the best reporters. A source got sick and canceled the interview. A dog ate the writer’s interview transcription. It’s all happened, and an editor’s heard it all.
Now at 4 a.m., the editor is responsible for coming up with another story, scrounging up sources, getting interviews and writing a backup story before the final deadline, which is in about 11 hours. Oh, and don’t forget to finish that project for your 9 a.m. class. Which is probably a journalism class, which means writing yet another news article on top of the ones you need to write for the Lanthorn.
Okay, it’s 5:30 a.m. and everyone’s articles are edited and checked for style errors. The editor has finished their first story and has a plan of action for the backup story. Time to hop in bed and snuggle with teddy.
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP. Crap. It’s 8 a.m. and that darn alarm clock refuses to shut up. The Lanthorn editors roll out of bed, some accompanied by a few choice words, and make more of that glorious coffee. Thank heavens for whitening toothpaste.
It’s time for class. Then an interview with Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell, athletic director Tim Selgo or perhaps even president Thomas Haas if he’s up for it. Then, off to go transcribe that interview and piece together the article.
Time to put the finishing touches on that last article. Phew, made it. It’s 3 p.m. Time for production to start.
After trudging up to Kirkhof, the Lanthorn editors settle into their cubicles in the newsroom and get to work laying out the paper. As soon as the layout team places articles on the pages, the editors wrack their coffee-saturated brains to come up with headlines and photo captions that fit in the allotted space and catch the readers’ attention.
Editors then print off hard copies of the pages and look over them with a fine-toothed comb, catching any typos or errors that snuck in during production…we must admit that an occasional mistake slips through. We all apologize, profusely, and ask for your forgiveness as we are still college students trying to learn the ropes.
After all the pages have been approved by the editor-in-chief and the advertising staff have placed all the advertisements, the paper is sent to the presses. The editors breathe a sigh of relief, bundle up, and head back home to begin the process again for the next issue of the paper. If you ever see us on campus feel free to buy us a cup of joe.