When you put it all together, the newsroom looks something like this. At any stage along the way the story could be sent back a step or two or three to be rewritten, re-angled or ‘spiked’ (an old term for being dropped). The story passes through a lot of hands before getting into the newspaper but only a few before going online. All those pairs of eyes represent lots of opportunities to catch mistakes; also lots of opportunities to inadvertently add mistakes - you’d be surprised how often errors are introduced along the way. But the job gets done, each and every day - a process which has been referred to as ‘The Daily Miracle’.
The DailyThe Daily
This presentation gives an overview of how
“News Industries” giving services everyday
How the newsroom appears to work...
Few people have been into a working newsroom.
So, for many, the machinations behind their daily newspaper or news website
look a bit like this.
Reporters get on the phone, talk to a few sources....
and write the story.
And the newspaper appears the next day..........
BUT, in reality, there’s a bit more to it.........BUT, in reality, there’s a bit more to it.........
How the newsroom actually works...
Newsrooms are all different - some are big, some small; some publish once a day,
some once a week; some publish online and on the radio as well as in print, others
stick to print. But while the size of the newsroom may change, and the titles people
have in the newsroom may vary, the fundamentals of how a newspaper is published
are the same everywhere.
Okay, give me
I’ve got a great
story from one of
The starting point is the story idea. The reporter may come up with a story idea - maybe from
talking to a contact, reading a council agenda, observing something on the way to work - and
pitch it to the chief reporter, whose job is to oversee what all the reporters are doing. Sometimes
the chief reporter will assign one or more stories to the reporter. Often those stories will have
come from the News Diary - a carefully maintained calendar of newsworthy events such as
conferences, court cases, sporting events, concerts and parliamentary proceedings.
The chief reporter will take the day’s story ideas to the news conference.
There are generally two conferences a day, one early in the day and one closer to
deadline. At the conference the chief reporter joins the editor, news editor, web editor,
picture editor and other senior staff to discuss the stories and decide which ones to
pursue and how to go about it.
Now it’s time for the reporter to research the story or stories assigned to them.
That may involve calling contacts, interviewing people in person or on the phone, checking
previous stories for background information, researching facts and figures online, attending a
press conference, interviewing the ‘man on the street’ for popular opinion and more.
Once the reporter has enough information and has checked the facts, it’s time to write the story.
And all of this is done against the clock.
Newspapers have strict deadlines for stories because a lot happens to them after
they’ve been written (as we’ll see shortly) and if they are late getting to the printers
then they’ll be late getting out to shops and homes - which could mean fewer sales
and less revenue for the newspaper.
Here you go
When a reporter’s happy with his or her story it will be ‘filed’. The story goes to the
Chief Reporter who checks everything that needs to be in the story is in there - is it
fair, accurate, balanced, the main points covered and properly explained? If there are
any gaps, the reporter will be asked to do some more work on the story and file it
Web Editor News Editor
Once the Chief Reporter’s happy with the story it gets sent into a general news
‘queue’ or basket. There, it will be seen by the news editor and web editor.
use it online,
the web and
The web editor will assess the story to decide whether it should be published on the website, and
where. The story will be modified to optimise it for web publishing - perhaps a different headline, the
addition of keywords to help make the story easier to find online, a simpler intro, an image of the
right size for the website template and so on. Then the story will be published directly on the
website. The web editor also monitors the ‘wires’ - a steady stream of national and international
news stories provided by news agencies.
The News Editor
assesses the story
where to use it,
re-angles or sends
for rewrite if
wires for stories.
The News Editor assesses the story to decide whether and where to use it in the newspaper. They
may re-angle a particular story, tighten up the opening paragraph, send it for a rewrite if they think it
needs more work or if something new has happened since the story was written. The News Editor
also monitors the wires for stories. Once the News Editor is happy with a story, they will mark it up
with information on what page it should go on and where, and send it on to the production team.
story for obvious
it to a
The production team is headed by a chief sub-editor who works with designers, picture editors,
layout sub-editors (sometimes known as paginators) and text sub-editors (sometimes called
‘downtable subs’). They oversee getting the pages drawn up, choice of pictures and allocating
stories to slots on the page. In some smaller newsrooms there is no chief sub, and in others the
work done by sub-editors is now outsourced to a separate organisation.
The process of laying out pages used to be done by hand as you can see in these images.
It’s now done on computers, although some people still sketch them by hand in the beginning to get
an idea of how they might look. Either way, the principles are the same. Space is allocated on each
page for stories, pictures, ads, headlines. The pages are drawn up by designers or layout subs,
often under direction from the chief sub. Once the pages are drawn and the stories are on the page,
the chief sub will assign to a sub-editor.
cuts story to
size, checks for
Here’s the headline
At this point the story is on a page and has a shape - the sub-editor knows how long it’s going to
be, how big the headline is, what picture’s going with it. The sub-editor’s job is to check the story
for factual errors and typos, make the story fit the space allocated to it and write the headline
and caption and any other elements on the page, such as selecting quotes to highlight. The
chief sub may also have given the sub-editor some direction on what kind of headline to write
and things to watch out for in the text.
When a sub-editor picks up a story, it looks a bit like this. They must write the
headlines, caption, credits and pull quotes and make the story fit.
Here’s the headline Now a better headline
The Check Sub-
Editor checks the
Now the story goes to a check sub-editor, or revise sub, who is normally a senior and
experienced sub-editor. They bring a fresh pair of eyes to the story, double-check
accuracy and typos and improve headlines when needed. The chief sub will generally
have another look at the story after this to make sure the final product is right.
Pages are proofread
Once all the stories on a page have been subbed and checked, the pages are printed
out and proofread. This is where final typos are caught along with layout issues - such
as rules in the wrong place, captions out of alignment or missing images.
When the pages have been signed off they are saved as pdfs and sent
to the printer.
What is the news today ??What is the news today ??
Check your important contacts…Check your important contacts…
Everything is fine ??Everything is fine ??
When you put it all together, the newsroom looks something like this.
Sometimes newspapers are referred
to as ‘the daily miracle’ because of
the number of steps and pairs of
hands involved in every issue.