News organizations fall into a category of business that also includes public utilities, food distribution and some parts of the service industry: they operate during the holidays.
Your Western Producer has just passed through one of its busiest months of the year.
It wasn’t the busiest from a news standpoint because those months are yet to come: January, February and March. However, it is the time of year when we are the most short staffed.
We used to use the grain year as our corporate clock, but in recent times we have shifted to a calendar year. It means that the paper, like most busy enterprises, procrastinated our staff holidays and unused overtime until the end of that clock, much to our publisher’s chagrin, whose job is to make sure we finish the year on budget.
When a business owes its staff time off, its accountants add up those hours, multiply by the rate of pay and subtract that from a business’s earnings, even though no cash has changed hands. For use, it means that a lot of staff who were busy travelling to conferences, hunting down stories, making video, laying out pages and marketing the paper aren’t around at this time of year.
As a result, December is a month when staff both want and need to take time off, news still happens and you, if you are like me, take a little more time to read your favourite periodicals, such as the Producer.
Just to make things extra hectic, we produce additional products at this time of year: The Saskseed Guide, a massive tool for planning this year’s crops; the Canola and Pulse Guide, with its integrated, Canola Council of Canada-driven hybrid-variety plot results; our year-end special edition, which this year is all about manure; our first post-secondary agricultural education guide; and season-long video projects.
You would think that Producer staff would be lined up to avoid the office in December with all that going on, the holidays upon us and pressure from the boss to use up accumulated time, but that’s not the case. Managers like me have to coax some of them to go.
Many of us at the WP keep in our minds a composite picture of a farmer who we serve. Delivering the information that helps that farmer the business and enjoy the rural lifestyle is what we do, all year long.