Column: Welcome to the newsroom

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By Sara Tucker, News Staff

It’s Wednesday night, roughly 6 p.m. The slightly crooked brown door is open, the dusty wood floors reflecting light from the open windows. I arrive, drop my bag and set up for the night, joking with the deputy news editor (Maxim) about clichéd writing and maxi dresses.

Editors trickle in one by one, some with nightmare stories about last minute edits or raving about the photo editor’s (Maria) incredible shots of Snoop Dogg from Saturday’s concert. The sports editor (Jake) and deputy sports editor (Emily) arrive early, joking in crazy sports jargon that most of us just pretend to comprehend. The special sections editor (Kelly) comes in a little later, always looking cute, a story ready for us about the incredible article she wrote for this week’s issue.

A few hours pass, and laughter can be heard from 50 feet down the hall. Tonight’s question:  AP style says to refer to persons by their last name after the first reference, so Snoop Dogg should be referred to as Dogg, right? And Jay-Z as Z? What about LL Cool J – Cool J, or J? And why is he getting an honorary degree from Northeastern, anyway? The editorial editor (Nick) has plenty of opinions about this particular topic, and he’s not backing down until he proves his point – he’ll be attending law school in the fall (my fingers are crossed for Cornell), so you won’t see him making an assertion he can’t back up.

The news editor (Miharu) comes in then, ready to work, but also ready for a tea break with friends, followed soon after by the deputy inside editor (Becca). She’s got a perpetual smile on her face, always ready with a pun-y headline or lede for a story. Her style is apparent and the calendar is a favorite for reads (that thing almost never needs edits, other than to remove all those Oxford commas).

Dinner decisions are made by 8:30 p.m. The newsroom favorites:  Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Panera Bread and Boston Shwarma. And can I just talk for a second about the grilled cheese cheeseburger Jake had the chefs at Five Guys rig for him? A burger, complete with onions, tomatoes and mustard, between two grilled cheese sandwiches. I still have a picture of the smile on his face before the first bite.

The city editor (Caitlin) comes in around that time, fighting for a seat and joking with Jake and I. She’s bright-eyed and fun, her fiery red hair reflective of a lifetime of Boston pride grown right here in Back Bay.

There’s lots to be done, but stress is usually at a minimum in the newsroom. The environment is familiar:  the old desks, the slow computers, the endless rainbow-wheeling as editors try to save InDesign pages. But we’re all friends, all willing to help one another, to sacrifice a few minutes of time working on our own pages to put reads on that track story (yes, Northeastern has a track team) or the Crime Log (I’m sure we laugh at that even more than you do).

When InDesign pages are finished, they’re printed for the eyes of the editor-in-chief (Laura) and the managing editor (Todd). That’s if you can get the printer to work, anyway. If not, a quick stroke or two with a deer hoof (that’s another story entirely) usually gets her up and working, spitting out pages in a way that I swear is mocking.

Relief is apparent when pages are printed. All that’s left to be done is apply Todd and Laura’s edits and post stories online. Laura is encouraging and helpful, and Todd is ready to give his opinion on any issue (the Bronx, especially) when he’s not asking for coffee from unsuspecting editors. Those who finish working and are waiting for page edits can usually be found at Symphony Market, browsing the shelves of ice cream (sometimes for a story) and the candy aisle for a midnight (literally) snack.

On a good night, we’ll be out of the building by 2 a.m., spilling out onto the deserted sidewalk outside 295 Huntington Ave. laughing, even though we’re totally exhausted. The walk back to the dorms is usually a long one, and fighting the wind when it’s -10 degrees outside is never a good time, but it’s always a worthy one.

Working in the newsroom is a semi-weekly commitment. And while sometimes Monday’s meeting can be skipped over for Red Sox games or birthday dinners, Wednesdays are never missed. We’ve been sick, upset, fresh from a break-up or celebrating a 21st birthday – always in the newsroom, always joking and laughing, even if it’s maybe slowing down our productivity. Wednesdays equal news nights for editors, it’s a 12-week struggle to provide the news in the best way we know how. So when you pick up the paper on Thursdays (please, please do), just think about the love that went into cranking that baby out for you.

 

-Sara Tucker can be reached at [email protected]