The Newsroom Insider

It's Monday at 11 a.m. and the room is quiet except for the clinking of fingertips typing away on computer keyboards and an annoying buzzing noise coming from a defective ceiling light.

In the afternoon the room will be noisier, as packs of reporters and editors filter in to file and read stories, and the buzzing coming from the light intensifies.

It's a typical start to a Monday in The Marquette Tribune newsroom, which serves as a second home for several staff members. Our office isn't exactly in an ivory tower (we're located in the Johnston Hall basement), but it serves us well when we're putting the paper together on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Production days play out like a crescendo, starting quietly and escalating with activity as deadlines approach. There are two key elements that go into making production days run smoothly: planning and flexibility.

In most cases we know which stories we're going to have in the newspaper a week in advance because each news desk holds a weekly meeting to come up with story, photo and graphic ideas for the following Tuesday and Thursday editions of the Tribune.

Every Monday and Wednesday we hold a "news huddle," a meeting involving desk editors in which we determine which stories and visual elements we are going to place on the front page. These meetings help our page designers determine where to place the rest of our content.

Despite these meetings, it is a safe bet we will alter our plans before the afternoon is over, as stories we initially planned for drop and news breaks when we least expect it. That's why flexibility is so crucial.

"Plain and simple, things are not always going to go as you planned," said sports designer Jessica Jacobsen. "It's best to try to be creative and flexible with what you're working on to help all sides of the newsroom."

Deadlines are also crucial.

Reporters have 3 p.m. story deadline, unless they are covering an event later in the day. Reporters submit stories to their respective desk editor — the first person to read stories in our "copy chain," the process through which a story is read by a desk editor, a copy editor and then either myself or managing editor Jackie Palank.

After all stories are edited, "late night" production begins. During this time, which lasts anywhere from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. (on a good day), designers place stories and photos onto our news pages and print them off to be read again.

This time can be particularly hectic when we have a large edition of the paper coming out. Sometimes, though, they can be fun.

And sometimes we even finish production before the clock strikes midnight … when we're really lucky.

Andrew Johnson is editor in chief of the Tribune. He can be reached at (414) 288-7246.