How is your Herald newspaper made?
PUBLISHED: 07:34 10 January 2016 | UPDATED: 09:22 11 January 2016
Every story begins with an idea - something seen or read, something explicitly told, or something overheard.
Reporters treat their patch as one big game of ‘spot the difference’, trying to notice any little change that could point to something bigger.
But we aren’t alone.
We build relationships – with business owners trying to get the best for themselves and their customers, with councillors at odds with the consensus, with the residents who are the lifeblood of the town. We maintain links with the emergency services and with voluntary organisations that give so much and ask so little.
Social media has become an invaluable tool for newsgathering and for staying in the loop with what matters to our readers.
An idea can come in any shape and size. It could be a plug for an event that makes 50 words, or an in-depth feature that makes 500. All go into making a newspaper and a total of some 25,000 words each week.
We get press releases from the district and county councils that are relevant to the patch – as well as pie-in-the-sky pieces from marketing agencies that really are not. Many are eager to shoehorn in some topical angle to make it seem newsworthy.
We try to give all of our stories a Sidmouth spin, localising them so they mean more to our readers. Any article of a decent length needs a photograph.
At the Herald we are lucky enough to have a trio of in-house photographers, who we share with the Exmouth Journal and the Midweek Herald. They whizz around East Devon on a daily basis.
The photographers can help us verify claims and give titbits of information when other sources can’t be reached – as well as bringing much-needed colour to the pages and filling them with the faces of our readers.
The number of stories we have to find each week is determined to an extent by the success of the advertising department.
They forge links with businesses across the patch to bring in much of the revenue that keeps the newspaper in print.
The advertising executives are always trying to keep their clients happy, staying in regular contact to feature their latest offers and news, and giving advice on what benefits them best.
All of this is put together by the page designers and editors. They lay out pages, ready for them to be filled with articles and images, making all the pieces of the puzzle fit together.
Everything is proofread and tweaked for style, consistency and clarity – often under the extreme pressure of a deadline.
The buck stops with our editors, so they work hard to ensure everything is by the book.
And as reporters who have risen through the ranks, they have a news sense honed over many years and thousands of articles.
Once the deadline rolls around on a Thursday afternoon, the newsroom breathes a collective sigh of relief, then cracks straight on with the next edition.
But the job isn’t finished.
The electronic proofs of the week’s paper take their physical form at the printing press.
The pages are given a final check before they are sent to one of two plate imagers to produce the page.
Each page has four plates – cyan, magenta, yellow and black – which are applied one after the other.
The Sidmouth and Ottery editions of the Herald typically total about 6,500 copies. This takes around 40 minutes, with a stop to change the plates for the edition change.
The press produces around three million copies a week, to very tight deadlines, so one late paper will knock onto the rest of that day’s schedule.
From there, it’s up to the distribution team to make sure it reaches the shops – and our readers buy it.
They work with logistics teams to get it into newsagents and other stockists and get it seen, sometimes negotiating special offers with local businesses to sweeten the deal.
With luck, each week you’re holding an interesting and entertaining newspaper that tells you everything you need to know about what’s going on in your town.