Editing on deadline

[Oct. 26] I didn’t really sleep last night. Should have been a good night’s sleep, because I was dead tired from two days of driving back from Virginia and the emotional exhaustion from the intensity of that visit. But duty called.

I was up half the night waiting for page proofs.

What a feeling. It’s been years since I waited for page proofs. (That’s the almost-final version of a publication about to be printed on paper.)

I’ve gotten so accustomed to instant publication online … click on “Publish” and there it is, for all the world to read.

In a strange twist of my editing career, I’m now helping to produce a print magazine that is a spin-off of an online news outlet that my team started three years ago. In Asia, print is still the way to make money off news.

As part of the Pakistan project, our executive editor Mubasher worked for almost a year to get a license for a print magazine. He was told that he couldn’t license the name of our online outlet, News Lens Pakistan, because it contains the words “news” and “Pakistan.” The big media groups had lobbied the government for this name ban to preserve their own brands.

Eventually Mubasher decided to use the name of an earlier website we created in 2013, Truth Tracker. It’s a fact-checking and promise-tracking site. News Lens grew out of that effort to do high-quality government accountability reporting, including human rights, security and economic development issues.

Over the past two weeks, our team has been writing and editing 20-some stories for the pilot issue of Truth Tracker magazine. Yesterday morning, I spent three frantic hours giving a last edit to those stories before the pages were laid out.

I was really glad to have a new iPad that enabled me to do that editing from an armchair in the Air BnB where we stayed in Charlotte. And glad that I can still edit on deadline. I caught many errors even in the few minutes I gave each story.

The magazine was supposed to go to the printers in Lahore at 10 a.m. today – that’s 1 a.m. here. We got back to Atlanta around 7 p.m., and I unpacked the car, grabbed dinner, and sat down at my desk to give the page proofs a look.

Things inevitably get messed up during layout. The wrong version of a story is used, the ending gets cut off, the headline is misspelled, a caption gets dropped, table of contents doesn’t match what’s on the pages … these are all things that need to be checked before the pages go to the printer.

But our page designer Fraz emailed to say that the pages weren’t done yet. “Rest a few hours.”

I tried to just relax, do other things, but it was hard to concentrate. I emailed again. Fraz said he’d have Mubasher call me when the pages were ready.

At 11 p.m. I told Tom to go to bed, and that I’d sleep in the recliner so that the phone call didn’t disturb him. I really wanted to be snuggled in bed with Tom, after our long journey and all the emotions that we were still processing, but I couldn’t let my colleagues down in the final hours.

I slept a few hours and had a few naps in the recliner. Never got a call. Kept emailing.

I got up and had coffee and breakfast. Collected my glass and tools for art class this morning at 10.

At 9:19, the page proofs landed in my inbox.

For 30 minutes, I raced through them, writing an email for each fix.

One paragraph made me laugh even as I wrote an email with URGENT as the subject line: A mentor had inserted a comment, “WHAT DOES THIS QUOTE MEAN? MAKES NO SENSE” and it was still in the story.

I was late for class. I was really tired. I was worried that I’d missed something in the rush.

But my colleague Michelle followed up and read the proofs too, and Fraz corrected them. And on Tuesday, November 1, there will be the Truth Tracker Pilot issue on the streets of Pakistan.

Today’s penny is a 2012, the year that our team began its first project in Pakistan.

3 thoughts on “Editing on deadline”

  1. You haven’t even had time to worry about the fires!!!! Good for you! I’m walking around this house trying to figure out how to stuff everything I own into my van. What is important ???? Thankfully, there is no deadline on that YET!. I will add that Preston’s family lost everything in a fire when he was a baby – so we have no baby pictures of him or his family then.
    Now, if I can just get all those scrapbooks in the car!!!!! linda

    1. We’ve evacuated twice – once from the fallen oak, and again last week I took everything that was irreplaceable out of the rental house (see post for Nov. 9)

Comments are closed.