Western Producer readers aren’t going to notice, but we’re doing things a bit differently around here these days.
The COVID-19 emergency has affected the newspaper’s office in the same way that it has affected thousands of other businesses across the country.
Many of our reporters and advertising salespeople outside Saskatoon have been working from home for years, but it’s new territory for those of us at head office.
Nine members of the paper’s editorial department typically work in our Saskatoon office, including me, but we are all now working from home.
Modern technology has helped make this a seamless transition. Our work telephone numbers have been call forwarded to our cellphones, and editors are still able to access company email and servers. Some of this access is a little slower than it used to be, but it also means no interruptions in our work flow.
Some adjustments have been required.
Take me, for example. One of my key jobs as news editor is to work with reporters to ensure that we are covering everything we should be every week. Phones and email mean nothing has changed.
However, another important responsibility is deciding what stories, photos and graphics appear on most of the pages in the newspaper and working with our production staff to make sure those pages are presentable and informative.
Face-to-face consultations and the ability to peer over page designers’ shoulders have always been a fundamental part of my relationship with these important staff members. Now I can’t do either of those things.
However, I would challenge anyone to tell the difference between pages designed a few weeks ago when I was working in the office and those that are now being collaborated on remotely.
Page designers put together pages at their end and then email me PDF versions to look at and proof. I am then able to attach any changes I may want to suggest and email back the PDFs. And of course, there are also those old stand-bys — email and the telephone.
I’ve heard many people say since COVID-19 struck that they couldn’t imagine doing this 30 years ago — and I agree.
We truly live in frightening — but also amazing — times.