The First Issue Scramble

Joel's Journal - January 2, 2018 - Volume 3 - Entry 2


The First Issue Scramble

It’s bound to happen. 

In the same way that you know you’re not only going to eat just one of those chips when you open the bag, I know that something is going to throw a wrench into the design of the newspaper. 

It happens every issue.

 At times, it’s something small, like an additional ad that needs to be squeezed onto a page, but at other times it something massive, like a full-page ad that gets pulled out at 1:30 p.m., right before our 2 p.m. deadline, or suddenly our server crashes and we can’t access any of our copy or photos. 

It’s all happened, and the first issue of the year is always an interesting one. 

Today was no different. 

The 5 a.m. alarm was jarring. The incessant rhythm of the iPhone chime throbbing into the soft blackness of the early morning like a rising headache. 

I rolled over, dropped my feet to the floor, and crossed the room to collect the phone from my dresser. I always leave the phone out of reach, not only to prevent it’s glaring blue light from keeping me awake, but the further away the device, the weaker its gravitational pull of distraction. 

I snoozed the alarm, brushed the hair from my face, then went to hit the start button on the coffee maker before immediately retreating to the warmth of the bed for a few more blissful minutes. 

It’s nearly a full hour earlier than I usually wake for my commute to Oshawa, the reason being M starting her new job across town, and for the first couple days she needs a lift before picking up her car. 

So, we had our quick breakfast, then headed out into the biting cold on our way to work. 

The morning went fairly smoothly after that, smoother than anticipated actually. 

As I mentioned yesterday, the first edition back can generally be a busy one, and with a lot of Year in Review stories to edit and lay out, I needed to put nose to grindstone the second I got to the office. 

I ignored the hundreds of emails stuffing my inbox, and immediately set to formatting the stories for the pages,  and beginning the process of designing the spread for our “Hot or Not” section, a special feature where I’ve detailed the good and bad decisions made by Oshawa’s elected officials over the past year. 

Before I left for the break, I had two full pages to work with to make the spread come to life. However, when  I checked the dummies (the initial layout for each page of the paper) I realized that more ads had come in and I was left with only one page to get the job done. 

No problem, thinking for a second, immediately ideas started to flow for a single page layout. 

The editorial needed to be written, so I took a break from layout and got that done as well. 

I was crushin it. 

When my reporter arrived, I handed off his pages, and set to complete my own remaining layouts, while juggling a few calls that came in. 

We were in pretty good shape up until an hour before deadline, when a number of pages were left to be completed as they waited for ads to be approved. It’s a typical delay with the paper, but can be seriously frustrating for an editor who has his work done hours before deadline, but is forced to be late because clients don’t sent their ads on time. 

My foot tapped a groove in the floor and my knuckles were cracked perhaps one too many times, but eventually all the ads came in and we were able to get the full newspaper off to press in good time. 

Enough about work though, besides, I spent the rest of the day mostly getting organized and plotting out the month of January and upcoming assignments. The housekeeping stuff is generally the most exciting for me, makes me feel like I’ve got everything in order, however it’s not the most exciting to write about. 

I left the office around 5:30 p.m. and with M getting off around 3 p.m., I knew we needed to do something for dinner, and we’d picked up a bunch of food for the week. However, it was her first day in the books at her new job and I thought I should do something nice for her. 

So, I stopped at the store and grabbed a couple platters of sushi and a handful of lilies before hitting the highway for home. 

As it turned out, M had eaten quite a bit already when I get home, but she smiled sweetly at the gesture, took the flowers and gave me a kiss, making it all worth while. 


All in all, a good day. Let’s do it again tomorrow. 


Thanks for reading, 



Joel Wittnebel