Monday, August 24, 2009

A day in the life of the Editor

I have been Editor of my village newsletter for just over 2 years now, and despite the hard work, it is very rewarding. I agreed to take over the reins before we even moved here, in December 2006, after my friend Gillian notified me that my predecessor (who has continued in his role as Chairman) wanted to give up his role in order to spend more time with his grandchildren. For the first 6 months Des and I worked together with me gradually taking on more responsibility, until I took over on a permanent basis in June 2007.

Despite his advertising for almost a year, I was the only person that came forward, which is strange in a village such as ours. We have perhaps 1500 residents, two thirds of whom buy the magazine in one form or another - most subscribe (it costs £4 per year or 40 pence per issue) and have it delivered through their door, but some buy it from the local shops, the nearby National Trust centre or the Doctors surgery in the centre of our village. It is a wonderful and friendly community, and other than the few poison pen letters I received in the early days (the writer, who used an assumed name objected to me mentioning my book in the newsletter) I have had no problems since, and often receive letters from residents telling me how much they enjoy what I write and how they look forward to each issue.

On average there are 24 pages of editorial with a separate section for advertising (the adverts are dealt with separately by another member of the team, whom I work closely with as each copy deadline approaches). There are sometimes extra ads that need to go into the Editorial section, and when this occurs, as it has been of late, I usually have to produce 28 pages of editorial in order to fit them in. This month I have had to do 32, since we have special 4 page centrespread - in colour - for the first time in the newsletter's 20 year history (the anniversary is actually next year - I am planning a special article to celebrate that as well).

This months centrespread features pictures from our village fair - held at the end of July, and the most important event for the village each year, since it is the major fundraiser for the Neighbourhood Council (the money raised goes towards a Christmas party for the village children and to sponsor local groups and charities) with news about next years fair and how much was taken this year.

Each issue features regular columns from several local groups - the WI and the Organ and Keyboard Club plus the National Trust, who are very much part of our community, one of their largest estates being less than one mile from the village. There are also contributions from the Christian Fellowship, a monthly letter from the Rector and a page of Church Services. This is quite a lot of Church stuff for a small community, and I am aware not only a small number of people go to Church, so I try to balance this out by giving a page to the Inner Journey group as well, and when I can, publishing some articles that I write myself on various spiritual topics - last month I included a piece on spirituality in schools, and how this is creeping into GCSE courses in the social sciences.

We publish 10 issues each year with double editions in July/August and December/January and operate to a copy deadline of 15th of each month with a print deadline of 24th - which is of course today. This month will be a day late, since I am still waiting for the colour proofs of the aforementioned centrespread to be delivered - they are being done by a separate printer to the rest of the newsletter which will be done by our usual printer in black and white, since we lack the equipment to do it ourselves. They should hopefully arrive some time today by courier.

This months newsletter then contains the usual regular columns with around 5 pages of news - the lead stories being a sponsored walk in aid of the Royal Marsden, the latest films to be shown at the village cinema club and some flower tubs that were stolen from outside the village hall. I also have a 2 page spread on a local man who is paralysed from the chest down and takes part in sponsored bike rides to raise money for other paraplegics less fortunate than himself, a one page article on a residents trip to Scotland, various flyer's advertising up and coming events (a charity fashion show being one of them), and a list of walks for the over 50's. There is also the very popular word game, the prize for which is a bottle of wine.

All in all I think is a very well put together newsletter with something for everyone. I look forward to seeing it in print.

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