A lot of papers and a whole lot of repetition

“A baseball swing is a very finely tuned instrument. It is repetition and more repetition, then a little more after that.” — Reggie Jackson

Working in newspapers, I suppose there’s a certain comfort in repetition.

Sure, no two days are alike, but there’s a certain rhythm that comes with working in the editorial department, having a direct hand in how a paper looks and what stories go into it.

Checking emails. Meeting with reporters. Brainstorming story ideas. Returning phone calls. Laying out pages.

There’s a lot to keep up with, but repetition and routine help make it possible.

In a recent column, I likened laying out the paper to playing a game of Tetris or putting together a puzzle. Both things are true, and the production of a single edition of the paper involves a lot of people and a lot of repetition.

One day may seem like a lot of work, but it’s even more impressive when you consider The News produces more than 300 editions each year.

The first issue of The News was published on Aug. 1, 1899, which means every Aug. 1, The News’ volume number grows by one.

By the time The News hits your doorstep or mailbox on Monday morning, it will mark the 307th time the paper has been printed between last Aug. 1 and July 31 of this year — The News’ 124th volume.

Any way you slice it, that’s a lot of papers. When you publish six days a week on all but a few holidays and you’re constantly looking ahead to whatever comes next, that number grows pretty quickly.

Producing a paper 307 times in a volume year is both impressive and staggering, if I take a minute to think about it. It’s like writing a book and each new day’s paper represents a new chapter.

It’s a lot of papers and a lot of content that goes into those papers.

We’re talking hundreds of obituaries processed and put together to run in the paper. That’s hundreds of comic strips placed on the comics page alongside hundreds of puzzles. That’s hundreds of columns on the Commentary page, both syndicated and local. That’s hundreds of edited photos, hundreds of ads, and even hundreds of items in the Sunrise Side Bulletin Board on the Lifestyles page.

Here’s a closer look at the numbers to give you an idea of how much local content goes into 300-plus issues of The News in a year.

In 2022, the News produced nearly 1,000 local stories, more than 1,400 photos, more than 2,300 briefs (short news items City/State, the Lifestyles page, and the Sports pages), and a handful of additional local content, including our Northern Lifestyles features on Page 1C on Saturdays, enterprise reporting — deep dives on bigger topics — and contributions to several special sections.

Additionally, The News’ Commentary pages had more than 200 letters to the editor, more than 250 local Viewpoints, and almost 300 contributions from local columnists.

It’s a lot of work and a lot of time put in, but it’s what we do to make sure that, every morning, you, the reader, knows exactly what’s going on in your community.

Now, let’s get to work on volume 125.

James Andersen can be reached at 989-358-5686 or jandersen@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.


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