How do you tell which edition you are reading? The 1st edition gets 4 tiny stars in the margin at the upper left of page 1. For each succeeding edition, one star is removed. For you algorithmic types, that means the edition you are reading is expressed as 5 – S, where ‘S” is the number of stars you see in the margin.
Newspaper stories have variable gestation periods, depending upon their subject. The stories are assigned to reporters by “assigning editors.” Globe reporters are assigned to ‘beats.’ This might be City Hall, Universities, the police department, or a suburban region. Senior editors at the Globe are responsible for prioritizing the stories within their own beat.
The reporter writing the story and this editor are the primary people responsible for the story’s content and accuracy. They collaborate to write the story and take primary responsibility for its accuracy. This may seem to be a fragile system, and it is. It relies on the good faith efforts of people to produce a quality product.
Would extra check help to eliminate bias? I doubt it. Additional approvals would not have much value given the very tight schedule that constrains production. Besides, having fewer approvals concentrates responsibility (and accountability) for a story’s accuracy.
When a story is passed by an assigning editor, it goes to a 2nd editor who focuses more on how well the story meets the paper’s style guidelines. The style guidelines provide a uniform guide for editing all the paper’s content. They would make interesting reading. I think responsible newspapers would do well today to publish their style guides so that critical readers can evaluate them.
The Morning Meeting
The highlight of my visit was to attend a daily morning meeting in the Globe newsroom. There are two such meetings each day. The meeting is brief, lasting only 20-25 minutes. It is a meeting of Globe Senior editors, those who are responsible for various sections or departments (National, Local, Business, Health/Science, Sports, graphics, photo, etc.).
The Globe’s Washington editor attends via conference call. The Globe’s Managing Editor simply calls on each editor by name and they report the top two or three stories they plan to run, give a thumbnail sketch of each story, and maybe mention where their people are now deployed. Each editor talks for only 1-2 minutes. Then the next editor is called on by name and does the same. When all the editors have had their say, the meeting ends.