Graduation section

This morning the paper thunked a bit heavier on your driveway – we hope you noticed the reason. Inside is our first, all county-wide high school graduation section. In the past, the News-Times and area residents recognized their graduates in two sections: One for El Dorado High School and one for all the other county schools. This year the two sections merged, like a four-lane highway becoming a two-lane path during road construction.
Since my other job (besides writing this column) is to collect copy, write and prepare special sections, I had the privilege of calling, writing and faxing all the schools to ask them for pictures and information about their honor graduates, scholarships, plans to join the military and high school activities.
Across the county senior class guidance counselors graciously added my requests to their list of things to do before graduation. Thank you to all the wonderful men and women in area schools who helped prepare the information and photos for us during their busiest time of the year. I really do appreciate your persistence in helping the News-Times prepare this section.
I have an additional thanks to the schools that sent the information in clearly typed, paragraph form. Bless you, that kind of copy scans directly into the computer and saves me from having to re-key the information.
While the News-Times editorial staff wore out their fingers keying in the rest of the information, both shifts of employees in the production department spent DAYS and HOURS working on scanning the school photos, re-sizing, toning and tweaking each graduate’s picture and saving it by the individual’s name.
This year, I set aside every news release we received on college scholarships and saved it for the graduation section. My favorite college this past week, not withstanding that none of my children attended it, is the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. UCA has gone totally paperless with their news releases. No letters to open with information to re-key. All I had to do was electronically transfer the information they e-mail, go to their website and down load pictures of scholarship recipients electronically ready for publication. That website saved our time and their postage and office supplies.
The advertising staff spent a lot of time talking with customers about graduate’s ads built around the seniors’ pictures. A couple weeks ago the advertising staff dummied out the pages you see in today’s paper.
The advertising staff spent hours and hours trying to fit everything into a 32-page section. That left little room for all the information I had received from the area schools and state colleges. We switched from 32 pages, to 40 and then down to today’s finished product of 36 pages.
While I laid out pages of editorial copy, the production staff worked furiously making sure every ad built reflected the pride and joy of the family which paid for the ad.
At times as I looked at the stack of hard copy and dummies waiting for me to do as a News-Times staff member and wondered if any of it really mattered.
As a mother, I know it matters – I have four graduation tabs tucked, away
Although I have put in several long days these past couple weeks, I am not complaining. The overtime on Tuesday through Thursday meant I could take off early on Fridays to attend college graduations – particularly, my daughter’s.
I am proud to say she is our fourth child to receive a bachelor’s degree.
Today as I write this we begin the final proof of the pages. Over the weekend, News-Times staff will finalize the paper, shoot the negatives, burn the printing plates and make a couple press runs for today’s insert.
Many of today’s special editions will wind up in the trash. The rest will be tucked away to age and yellow in boxes of momentoes.