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Voyageur's Best Generally Speaking Columns of 2002

Newspaper debacle

Newspaper debacle
What it takes to put a newspaper together
by Cynthia Brekke  | June 18, 2002

Most people don’t realize what it takes to put a newspaper to print each week, and what it takes to get them to the newstand or the mailboxes, either. It’s a process that requires many, smooth steps.
Last week, the Voyageur went to every resident in the McGregor, Tamarack and McGrath areas. Not only was it triple the size of our usual mailings, but the paper came in two sections. Not only were there two sections to the paper, but there were also two inserts.

We were minus our publisher last week. John Grones ran a basketball camp and was gone until Friday. It shouldn’t have made a difference and, in retrospect, it didn’t, except when the debacles are totaled. Last Tuesday started out like any other Tuesday for us... that is... until the paper didn’t arrive on schedule (debacle number one). They are printed in Brainerd, at the Dispatch, and a machine had broken down, so the papers were delayed. That was only the beginning.

Debacle 2: When the papers arrived at the Voyageur office, the two sections (main and section B) were not put together. We had to put them together manually. That would not have been so bad, except that many papers had already been dropped off in differrent locations (debacle three), which is done before the bulk gets to McGregor. One of our staff had to grab inserts and section B, and get out to the remote locations and stuff them. This left us one person short for finishing the remainder of the papers.

We had a great staff put together to accomplish this task, and they worked great under pressure: Jacquie Honstrom, our advertising sales rep.; Donna Youker (wears many hats); Amber Lehman (also wears many hats); Angie Johnson, new to the staff (Donna’s assistant and proof reader), and another new addition to our team (hopefully) and visiting for the week, Kerry Nelson (ad sales, currently with Taylor publishing).

Debacle number four: As she was reading through the subscription sheet inserts, Jacquie’s keen eye caught a mistake. The sheets were printed for the LAST mailing we had done to the cities of Wright and Cromwell. Nearly 3,000 copies had to have the top half trimmed off.

By now, we were beginning to see that this was going to be anything but a normal day at the office, however, we took it in stride. Once there were enough papers put together to achieve one mailing route, Donna and Amber loaded them in Donna’s van and took them to the post office. Last Tuesday, the roads were blocked for the paving process, so they had to take the overpass and go in the back way. Debacle five: as they were turning off the overpass, the back door of the van flew open and spewed papers all over the highway. They stopped immediately, and began dodging angry drivers, grabbing papers that were floating over the roadway in the wind. They had to fix the papers and get them back in order, then deliver them to the post office.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the remainder of us were wondering what could be taking so long at the post office, when Donna’s pop was overturned on the corellating table (debacle number six) and heading fast for the stack of already-completed newspapers. We cleared that table faster than you can say “holy cow”.

Between hilarious phone calls from our out-of-school kids, and running out of insert items, the day proved to be a challenge. However, the paper went out and we learned a lot about ourselves (and each other} in the process. We hope you enjoyed the paper!

This article first appeared in the June 18, 2002 issue of the Voyageur Press.