At the onset of 2018, the Madera Unified School District implemented its elected board’s bold decision to communicate directly to the community via a quarterly newspaper format. Workingarts was selected to provide design, copy editing, and production services, as well as managing all other aspects of the production processes. Thanks to our many years spent in the publishing industry on both coasts, we decided to take on the project while making sure to dedicate time to build up the publishing capability with the MUSD staff involved in the project. We created the newspaper template, built on a format organized around a set of goals set by the district, and delivered a design that would invite readership: all pages are full color and the newspaper is mailed out to every single home and business in town. We also designed the newspaper’s corresponding website and other associated digital outlets (twitter and facebook accounts). As a core component of the state required Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP), the mission of the We Believe Newspaper is to improve communications with the community MUSD serves. The main goal is to keep Madera residents informed on all developments, achievements, projects, and issues facing its community of students, parents, educators, staff, and all other MUSD stakeholders. Starting with its third issue, the newspaper welcomed advertisers to take advantage of the newspaper’s deep reach into the community.
Newspaper publishing has so many moving parts, it requires the combined talent of seasoned professionals in all aspects of the trade: design, production, writing, advertising sales, organization, mission focus, circulation, distribution, and the meticulous orchestration of the internal and external dependencies that make or break a newspaper. Once all the pre-press work is complete, the actual product gets manufactured by a printer, and that critical last step requires as much attention as any of the dominoes that precede it. Another aspect of this trade is the fluid ballet of the egos and personalities involved and the constant creation of content, presentation of the vision, and faithful rendition of the authors’ intentions, while stretching the newspaper print format’s limitations. That is the core of the creative work that goes on, at every level of the newspaper enterprise. If is a bold yet fragile enterprise, of which the myriads of moving parts can lead to both magnificent results and spectacular failures.
It might surprise you that most executives do not like writing. As a writer, I struggle to understand their reticence; writing is telling a story, and few actually have a knack for doing it well, passably, or at all. However, anyone can immortalize thoughts with the use of a smart phone’s voice recorder app. If you have a topic, a story, a joke, or even a rant, take the time to record it and transcribe it. It is surprisingly easier to get it on paper with that simple trick. It also literally uses your “own voice”. Let the editors fix your grammar and typos: it’s their job! Try it; it might trigger a newly-discovered writing skill. I hear my own voice, in my mind, as I write this or write on behalf of others. I also enjoy the interview process and the meandering that occurs during the conversation. Some tidbits may not come out in linear writing, but the conversation does help to bring out details which, although apparently insignificant to the interviewee, may reveal themselves quite valuable to the readers, because the audience is on a discovery path, while the author, or the interviewee, knows all aspects of the topic to be published in the article. PS: I wrote this paragraph in the “I” form, because it is the easiest way to write; just put your thoughts down on paper, from your perspective, as you would speak them to someone else.