The Daily Miracle

November 30, 2007

post written by Scotty HydeI absolutely love journalism – specifically, print media.

One of my favorite things to do here is go back to the pressroom when that day’s paper is being prepared for printing. I love it when the massive press starts up, creaking as huge rolls of virgin newsprint begin slowly turning, gaining speed and rhythm …

I love the smell of the ink and the sound of the press – when it’s going full on, you can feel it thrumming through your bones. It’s fantastic – I love watching the freshly minted newspapers travel out of the mighty press, carried up and out of the pressroom on a conveyor belt. From there, the newspapers, so far untouched by human hands, travel to the very back of the Daily News building to the area where all those inserts are … well, inserted and the papers are prepared for delivery.

It’s an amazing process that I haven’t gotten used to over the years.

There’s a tired old cliche in newsrooms – we call the newspaper the Daily Miracle. When you consider every aspect that has to come together, every day, to produce a newspaper, it’s no wonder it’s a cliche – it really is a miracle.

I love bringing friends and family members into the newspaper office and showing them through the various stages of a newspaper’s production. I think few people have any idea of what it takes to put out a paper every day. And why should they? So long as it shows up on their doorstep or driveway each day, people don’t need to know what goes into making it, any more than I really need to know exactly how electricity gets from … wherever it originates to the lamp in my living room.

And you’d better believe that when I flip that switch and the lamp doesn’t come on, I call the utility company to find out why, just like our customers call if that newspaper’s not at their doorstep.

If that happens, call our Circulation Department’s customer service number: 783-3200. I don’t know what the electric company’s number is; I’d have to Google it.


Preparation

November 30, 2007

Game time

 Joe Imel/Daily News

BGHS football players end their practice Thursday with their helmets held high.

 


post written by Joe ImelI covered Bowling Green High School team’s football practice tonight for a story that will run on Friday’s sports front. It is a preview story of their clash with Owensboro. The Purples had a light practice, just a walk though to get mentally ready for the game. TIme to get focused. They have been at it since temperatures were in the high 90’s and heat indexes were ridiculous. Now we are looking at the low 30’s and just one game at time. While they spent their time walking through each part of the game, I kinda did the same thing tonight to get myself ready to cover the contest at Rash Stadium. Preparation. My walk through and game routine have been pretty much the same over the last 20 years of covering youth, prep, college and professional sports. I am guessing I have covered more than 5,000 games in my time as a photojournalist. And the night before each is always the same. Charge all the batteries, clean the lenses, clear the digital cards, pack three camera bodies, four lenses, two flashes, four compact flash cards, rain gear, gloves, hat, laptop, charger, cables, card reader, find wifi near the stadium, download the rosters and pack it all in the right camera bags for easy access. I could do it in my sleep. I get a bit jittery the night before a big game. I like to get there early to get all the gear ready and walk in with plenty of time to spare. I hate being rushed, because I will forget something, have a setting wrong or just can’t settle into the groove. I worry about getting from the stadium to a place to transmit from. I worry about making my deadline. I worry about making a better picture than any other photographer there. Darn it, I just worry. I’m jacked up before I go shoot a game. I can’t help it. You should have seen me the night before I shot the Titans/Rams Super Bowl. I was outta my mind jacked. It usually takes me about a quarter to get into shooting the game and concentrating on making pictures that tell the story. I’m a bit nervous about the game Friday. But once the ball is kicked off, I am in my office, working my job. See you on the sidelines.


Anyone can do this

November 29, 2007

post written by Justin StoryThe Daily News is venturing beyond the printed page, stepping further into the metaphorical waters of the Web, and you would be hard-pressed to find someone happier about this development than myself.

A colleague at one of my former employers assessed for me recently the growing influence that blogs and other Internet outlets such as YouTube have when it comes to shaping public opinion and disseminating information about our world. Her words stuck with me:

“The secret is out — anyone can do this.”

These words were said with a tone of trepidation on her part, I think because she recognized the significance of this development but also saw it as a challenge to the newspaper’s traditional role of providing information and commentary about the day’s events.

She has to deal with adapting her newspaper to the changing times by incorporating more features on its Web site and hoping that the investment will be fruitful, but I like the premise that anyone, indeed, can report the news — it suggests to me that more people have a vested interest not just in breaking stories, but also in ensuring a well-informed public.

One could argue that the newspaper’s role in dictating the daily news cycle was supplanted in the 1980s by TV news networks, especially CNN, and that the Internet is now in the process of upending TV as the prime news source for the public.

I would contend, however, that these entities should be viewed not as competitors, but as outlets with the mutual interest of reporting the news, whatever it may be.

If you want the best, most thorough information about Bowling Green, look no further than the Daily News.

Local news is our primary interest, but there are many great sources for national news, and I would recommend any number of them to supplement the local coverage we provide for you.

The more people who have an interest in news, the better. The more outlets people can access for news, the better. The more well-informed a community, the better.

In the service of adding more people to this well-informed community, future posts of mine on this blog will provide additional context to some of the stories I report, insight on how we at the Daily News do what we do and some occasional commentary on the news business in general.

Also, I hope to be able to touch on some of my interests away from reporting.

Feedback will be greatly appreciated — nothing would be more disappointing to me than seeing no public response after writing about how much I enjoy the fact that, because of advancing technology and the public’s increasing need to know, anyone can do this.


Good kids

November 29, 2007

post written by Robyn MinorIn Logan County Fiscal Court coverage earlier this month, there wasn’t enough time or space to get in some information that really should have been in there.

Logan County, just like other county governments around the region, is hoping it knows what it takes to develop future leaders – recognize the talents and positive behaviors of its youngest citizens early in life.
Three students at Russellville Middle School were recognized for the entries in a poster contest about radon – an odorless gas that often lurks under and into homes across the region.

Those students, Caleb Wills, Seth Washington and Brandon Jennett, were given plaques by Barren River District Health Department representative Terry Flynn while their parents looked on smiling. Caleb also received second place in the statewide contest.
Flynn said it was the second year that Logan County students had done well in the contest.

At the same meeting, Magistrate Harold Prince gave a hug and gift certificate to teenager Lee Dockins who brought home the gold and several other medals from the Special Olympics in China. Lee, dressed obviously in clothing she purchased in China, glibly accepted the recognition for her work in gymnastics, something she has participated in since a youngster.

Just Wednesday (Nov. 28), the state sent out a news release touting another Logan County student. This time Adairville School student Elizabeth Rafi took second place in the state Transportation Cabinet Adopt-A-Highway poster contest. Elizabeth will get a $50 savings bond for her efforts.

Several other counties around southcentral Kentucky make an effort to recognize youngsters. Warren County Fiscal Court frequently parades students in, giving them handshakes and certificates. The students and parents alike all seem to appreciate the recognition and acknowledge that it encourages students to continue to excel.


Can you Google Google?

November 29, 2007

post written by Scotty HydeI have no idea how newspapers got anything right before Google.

Most of my 23-year journalism career was pre-Google, and yet, I’m amazed that anything I wrote had any kind of accuracy before that marvelous search engine became available.

When the Internet first began integrating into newsrooms, it didn’t take long for journalists to realize caution was warranted. One of the first rules of journalism must be applied to the Internet, as well: Your information, and reputation, is only as good as your source. And obviously, there are a lot of questionable sources of information on the Internet.

I probably use Google at least a dozen times a day. I check spellings of cities and towns mentioned in obituaries, I double check time zones, I check various titles of people quoted in stories.

Sidebar: This is not an advertisement for Google. I am not in any way affiliated with Google. I have not been compensated in any way by Google. The Internet has lots and lots of search engines, all of which have their pluses. But Google has those cool holiday logos.

If I think back really hard, I believe I used to check my details the old-fashioned way: I asked people to spell things, looked things up on atlases and other reference material most newsrooms had, I called folks who would know for sure.

Most everything related to our legislature is accessible online now, but I remember having to call to request information and waiting two or three days for it to arrive in snail mail. In the snow. Up to my knees. Both ways.

Yes, I’m a dinosaur on copy desk. The other copy editors are young enough to be my children. Grammar and punctuation are still my first priorities in writing – which is not to say I always get it right. But I always strive for that.
And thanks to Google, I can get it right more often!


Diverse Business

November 28, 2007

post written by Ameerah CetawayoBowling Green’s economy is not only the fastest growing in the state of Kentucky, but its changes are coming in stages of diversification— the “spreading of risk by putting assets in several categories of investments,” by common definition.

You start to see a clusters of certain types of businesses coming into the city and you start seeing trends. Jobs come. Jobs leave. But you get the sense that something is happening.
Welcome to a business reporter’s world.

From the influx of ice cream shops, barbecue restaurants and payday loan centers to the departure of eBay.com-dependent businesses and undercaptilized small businesses, Bowling Green’s economy is becoming more diverse.

A recent story about Houchens Industries published in the Daily News highlights the benefits of diversification.

Houchens Industries is the largest ESOP, or 100 percent employee owned company in the U.S. and a company that surely isn’t putting its egg in one basket. It’s also ranks 140 on Forbes’ list of The Largest Private Companies 2006.

Just look at their business interests: insurance, manufacturing, Web development, retail grocery and convenience stores, fast food (SONIC), construction, paving, trucking, recycling, tanning suppy distribution and property management.

Each industry by itself carries its own risks, but to have your hand in each helps to ride the cyclical nature of the American economy. By diversifying its interests, when one industry is seeing a downward trend, Houchens has another part of its holdings to balance its portfolio.

After selling off its tobacco business, Commonwealth Brands, for almost $2 billion in February 2007, Houchens has plenty of cash to go shopping, as indicated by its purchase of Louisville-based Hilliard Lyons, a deal that will close in the first quarter next year.

But I am wondering what is next on the Houchens’ grocery list.

What would you buy if you were a powerhouse such as Houchens?

Houchens has yet to buy up anything and everything in Bowling Green, but with its name on L.T. Smth Stadium and Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce building, what is next?

While Houchens is already busy building 30 new Sonic restaurants in the Cleveland area, according to its CEO, Spencer Coates, maybe Houchens should start buying cities, islands, and creating a tourism experience next.

Why not? Extend the brand further beyond annual events such as the Houchens Sweet 16.


Many eyes needed

November 27, 2007

Invariably, as an editor, I hear comments such as, “How can that happen? Do you not have a proofreader? What are you, a moron? I’ll be glad to help … ” etc. etc.

There are days when I feel like a moron. On rare occasions, I deserve that label.

Still, moron or not, it’s my job to ensure copy is clean. That’s not to say I read every story. Some days, particularly when we have numerous pages to put together, I might only read a handful. I also am involved in page design and ensuring those pages are finished error-free and on time.

The key element in newspaper work is time, or the seemingly constant lack thereof. We have various deadlines each day. And there are days when a kind, thoughtful reporter (I love ’em all, really) will dump a 45-inch story on the desk with only a few precious minutes to provide that copy with three loving edits, a headline and room to include it in that day’s edition.

Other days, by the nature of that day’s compilation of news, we might have ALL front page stories come screeching in right at deadline, or even a few minutes past. Those days can make morons of us all and make readers wonder about our ability.

This is not an excuse blog. Every newspaper makes mistakes and not all are induced by the dreaded deadline bell ringing. Still, the process by which we write, edit and publish is streamlined, and when we derail a bit – say a story falls through or all come to the finish line at once – it can lead to a troublesome day for a reader who finds an error.

To combat this potential for errors, we have a series of deadlines. For example, the front page has its own deadline, as does Page 2, the obituary page, color pages, black and white inside pages, the Sports section front, etc.

All locally written stories get three edits before they are placed on a page. Then, that page is posted in the newsroom for others – reporters, photographers, etc. – to provide a last look.

So if you spot an error, please let us know. I take whatever steps possible to ensure errors are minimal. Also, we correct our mistakes based on where they occur. Page 1 mistakes are corrected on the next day’s Page 1. Inside page problems are fixed on Page 2, Sports in Sports section, etc.

So bear with us. We’re battling monsters, land mines at every turn, skeptical former English teachers who comb our copy at leisure for trouble that we must spot sometimes in few precious minutes.