It’s another Monday morning. You’re back in the office. You’ve got a steaming cup of coffee. You have 47 e-mails to answer and just a few dozen phone messages cluttering your desk.
Monday, indeed. Nothing quite like it, is there?
But wait a second. Mondays aren’t all bad.
If you haven’t offended the Postal Powers That Be, then your friendly neighborhood mail-person, at any minute, should be dropping off a brand new issue of Mississippi’s essential source for business news. You know, the Mississippi Business Journal.
OK. Maybe a hot copy of the MBJ isn’t the best cure for your Monday Morning Blues (that would actually be Friday), but there are plenty of reasons to check out our paper every week.
So, today (hopefully, a Monday), take the time and an extra slug of java and read on to find out how this week’s edition made it to your mailbox.
And if you haven’t noticed by the tongue-in-cheek, shoot-from-the-lips tone in this particular introduction, we take Mississippi business seriously, but we can’t say the same for ourselves.
This step might confuse you since today is a Monday, right? Anyway, the Mississippi Business Journal week actually begins on a Thursday, but for sanity’s sake, we’ll pretend that, really, it all starts to happen on Monday.
Really though, that makes no sense. Let’s hit Thursday.
So, it’s Thursday. A brand new week at the MBJ. We’ve got our steaming cups of coffee. Just like you. We’re lucky though, no Monday Morning Blues here. We have been known to get the Thursday Morning Jitters, but that’s the coffee talking. Time to think about another issue, right?
“But, didn’t we just finish one last night?”
Try working at a daily.
Ooops, the coffee is talking again.
Editorial planning isn’t an art or science. It’s a collaborative process that might begin a couple of months ahead of deadline or just a few short hours. It involves a lot of talking. Issues. Ideas. People. Products. Services. The MBJ editorial team spends hours on Thursday mornings debating, discussing, asking “What if…,” and, of course, chasing rabbits. We also utilize large quantities of caffeine and skepticism.
Into this cacophony, a flurry of e-mail messages are sent between editor Jim Laird and staff writer Becky Gillette, who works from the MBJ’s Gulf Coast office, as well as to other contributing writers, like Lynne Wilbanks Jeter in Ridgeland or Mary Ellen Powell in Hattiesburg.
Staff writer Wally Northway and publisher Joe D. Jones, CPA, both of whom have MBAs and a passion for the Civil War, also play key roles in this process since they are actually in the building (5120 Galaxie Drive, Jackson — drop by if you’re in town) and not voices from cyberspace or beyond. Thanks to technology, the MBJ is able to cover the state from “virtual” offices all over Mississippi. That technology also gives us plenty of resources to tap into, like our readers, advertisers, executives, office managers, PR professionals, educators, legislators, friends, family and countrymen. It’s a pretty cool process.
And that’s important to keep in mind. Putting out this newspaper is a process with meaningful contributions from every staff member, and perhaps even, you.
“To get the paper out each week requires a lot of effort by a lot of people,” said Jones. “The logistics of bringing all of those people and the effort together takes a tremendous amount of planning and teamwork.”
By mid-morning Thursday, we have a pretty good idea of what the next issue is going to look like. However, nothing is certain with the news. Our list of stories, features and columns is dynamic. We’re ready to change at a moment’s notice because we’re here to cover Mississippi business news as it happens.
Now, it’s time for more confusion. As we work on planning and preparation, the paper is being printed in Kosciusko by IMC Web Graphics. But since we’re only beginning our story, we’ll get back to Kosciusko in a minute.
Ah, Friday — most glorious of weekdays. Here at the MBJ, writers are writing, ad reps are selling. Bills are being paid. Money collected. We’re faxing. Mailing. Phoning. You’d think it was the most normal office on the planet. Until the papers come back from Kosciusko. It’s usually around 11 a.m. when you hear the high-pitched “beep-beep-beep” signaling the IMC truck backing into our parking lot with bundles of the new issue.
It’s exciting, routine and a bit terrifying. All in one. Really.
Exciting because there’s something mystical about the smell of fresh newsprint filled with business success stories, lively debate and innovative ideas.
Routine because we do this every week. We are here and have been here for 20 years to cover business news in ways that are unique and insightful. Occasionally offbeat, too.
Terrifying because what if we forgot to do a page 2? Or sppelled yer name rong? The horror. Thankfully, there’s always next week, and we think we’re pretty good about printing corrections. Just give us a call, and we’ll talk.
Back at it. Coffee. New ideas. What happened over the weekend?
Meanwhile, in advertising, MBJ’s account executives are selling, selling, selling. Ad director Karen Gilder and our ad reps — Robbie Bell, Rachel Crews and Nicki Richardson — and MBJ’s classified rep, Donna Wallace, are busy with this week’s paper. And next week’s. And the next. And did we mention our upcoming special publication?
Again, it’s a process — just like planning the editorial content — as the account executive and client decide what message an ad needs to send. Tossed into this mix, is creative director Rhonda Hannah, who is responsible for the layout and design of many of the ads in the MBJ.
And that’s Monday. Not exactly The New York Times but not really a bank either.
Can you feel the adrenaline, yet? Every Tuesday, advertising gives editorial a list of ads running in the next paper. We call it a run sheet. Using that run sheet, a list of stories and a Ticonderoga No. 2 pencil, the editor “dummies” (or, is it “dummys?”) the paper. It’s basic layout and design. Putting together a puzzle with stories, advertisements and artwork.
Writers and columnists send their stories in for editing. Final ad proofs are OK’d and the account executives “paste down” their ads on the “flats.” The flats are big pieces of paper that hold two pages of the paper. We put the ads and completed pages (the raw ingredients) onto the flats, which the printer will take and use to produce the final product (read about it Thursday).
A quiet falls over the office Tuesday evening. Must be that quiet before the storm.
This is it, Bubba. The Day. Every element of the MBJ is tossed into a Cuisinart and using QuarkXpress, PhotoShop and a couple of high-end Mac G3s, at the end of the longest day ever, out pops pages one through whatever. They’re all ready for another look over and then pasted down on the flats. Where we look them over again. And probably, again.
What’s that, you ask, what are you talking about? Absolutely-controlled chaos. We can get a paper to press. We know what we’re doing. It just isn’t pretty to watch. You know, like making sausage.
The process might seem a bit, ludicrous, or even tedious, but Wednesday is not too bad of a day — all things considered. Wednesday, after all, is the day when every MBJer, every
department, comes together as a real team.
Corny, you say? It’s true. Despite the
shortened tempers, the pressure of a deadline, the focus on perfection (which is never achieved but is always The Goal), we always get it done.
Tough to explain what it’s like around the office on a Wednesday. You have to experience it. But, right now, you don’t have time…the IMC driver is here