Newspapers still best bet for news

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 4, 2015

Production manager Jimmy Mullen makes a plate Friday at The Vicksburg Post. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

Production manager Jimmy Mullen makes a plate Friday at The Vicksburg Post. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

Whether one is reclined in a barcalounger checking the sport agate or sitting at the breakfast table sipping a hot cup of coffee and laughing at the funny pages, the thought of how a newspaper is made probably does not cross one’s mind.

All that really matters is the enjoyment of reading it.

For those in the industry, however, the process is labor intensive and increasingly technology driven.

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As part of National Newspapers Week, here is a brief walk-through of how The Vicksburg Post employees produce your newspaper every day.

At The Vicksburg Post, 33 employees and 25 independent contract carriers are busy at work seven days a week to make and deliver your newspaper.

“The newspaper day starts with a blank sheet of paper,” said Tim Reeves, publisher of The Vicksburg Post said, “and it is my responsibility for the everyday operations of all the departments, from the business office to the mail room — to the newsroom from the way we answer the phone — to delivering papers and everything in between.”


Retail advertising

It would be impossible to produce a newspaper without advertisers, and The Vicksburg Post considers its advertisers as partners, because they are investing in the product.

We meet with local business owners, and we work to help them find ways to use print to market their business, the head of the advertising department at The Vicksburg Post Angela Ross said.

“The challenge is to find something that is effective for the customer that works within their budget and to help them develop long-term advertising plans,” Ross said.

Relationship building is also a key element for those working in the advertising department.


Classified advertising

The classified department’s job is to market to anyone who has something to sell, from rental property, to real estate, to legal ads to employment opportunities.

“We also do all of the memorial type advertising like birthdays, anniversaries, a thank you and congratulations,” classified department employee Catherine Barry said.

The Classified department also produces the business card directories, which are distributed in the community once a year. The directories offer information on services offered in the community.



The news process begins with a lead on a subject or a reporter seeking out information on a particular topic. This information should reflect the community and its goings on, which should include crime reports, athletic events and community events. Reporters’ stories also serve as a watchdog over public spending.

“A reporter’s job is to find out what is going on in the community, get the facts and then get them verified,” Vicksburg Post news reporter John Surratt said.

“You go out and do interviews on subjects dealing with whatever you are going to write about,” Suratt said, which may include covering community meetings. A reporter’s job may also include getting reactions to statements made in meetings, he said.

After a reporter has finished conducting their interview, they will go back to their desk, read their notes and/or listen to their recordings and write a succinct story.

Once a story is completed, it is the editor’s job to make any changes or corrections, they see fit before the story goes into the newspaper. It is also the job of an editor to give a story its headline.



It is the job of a photojournalist to tell a story with photos.

“A reporter may get to write a story that has 500 words, but I may only get one picture in the newspaper to tell the story,” said Vicksburg Post photographer Justin Sellers.

Pictures help sell newspapers, Sellers said, because they are the first things a person sees when looking at a newspaper.

At The Vicksburg Post, Sellers said he might have scheduled photo assignments he is responsible for shooting, but often times, his job requires him to take a photo at a moment’s notice.

“If there is a wreck or a fire, you have to stop what you are doing and go. A lot of times it might not be at a convenient time of the day or night, but that is part of the job,” he said.


Creative Services

The creative service department designs the advertisements that appear in the newspaper.

“We take advertising copy that the advertising representatives obtain from the customers and build ads for their business needs,” director of creative services David Girard said.

Once the advertisement is “built” it is then sent off to the customers for them to approve. After all additions or corrections have been made to the advertisement, Girard said, the advertisement is then put into the commuter system for publication.



The circulation department focuses on the newspaper subscribers and the carriers who deliver the papers.

“We make sure the carriers get the paper out in a timely manner, and if a carrier does not get a paper out, we will deliver the paper ourselves,” Stacy Hartley said.

“We also do all the payments and billing for the carriers and subscribers,” Hartley said. At present, the Vicksburg Post has 25 carriers who deliver the paper to 43 routes.



The Vicksburg Post prints its newspapers on an eight-unit Goss Urbanite offset press, but before the press rolls, computerized pages of the newspaper are sent from the newsroom to the pressroom.

The images from the computer are then transferred onto an aluminum plate that is light sensitive on one side. The plate then passes through a processor, which develops it, similar to the way film was developed, Jimmy Mullins said.

“The aluminum plate is then put on a pin register system,” Mullen said, which allows it to register color.

The pin register also bends the aluminum plate so it will be able to wrap around the cylinder of the printing press.

Once the aluminum plate is attached to the printing press, an inked image from the plate is transferred on to a rubber cylinder on the printing press, similar to a rubber stamp.

From this “rubber blanket,” Mullen said, the image is transferred onto the newsprint. The paper is then cut and folded into the daily newspaper.



The newspaper inserts — or pre-printed newspaper advertisements — in The Vicksburg Post newspapers are all done in the mailroom.

“On Mondays, we get the insert orders so we will know what inserts are going into the papers,” assistant mailroom supervisor Shaneka Hill said.

Many of these employees are required to work late hours on the weekends.

“While you sleep, we are still here, Hill said, adding on Saturday nights her crew comes in at midnight to pre-stuff papers for Sunday.



Carriers are independent contractors with The Vicksburg Post and each will have one or more routes they run to deliver papers.

Carriers come to The Vicksburg Post to pick up papers. It is their responsibility to roll and bag the papers in plastic.

“When it’s raining, I double bag,” independent contractor Regina Smith said.

Smith said it takes her about six hours to run all of her routes.

“I deliver papers to all the downtown business and residences. Mondays are my busiest day because I have to hold all the weekend papers for the businesses that are closed,” she said.

Smith said in addition to delivering papers, the job also includes keeping up with the scheduling of who gets a paper on what day, and when to hold papers if someone goes out of town.

Smith said she also has to return any old newspapers that were left in the bins on her routes, back to The Vicksburg Post.



The bookkeeping department’s responsibility includes taking care of all financial transactions, human resources, new hire and termination forms, payroll and to verify any questions an employee may have, said Linda Martin.

Martin is the bookkeeper for The Vicksburg Post.

Shandale Goodman, who also works in the business department of The Vicksburg Post, is in charge of physically reconciling the newspaper.

“I get a ruler and will measure each advertisement to make sure it corresponds with the charge,” Goodman said.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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