The Battalion. (College Station, Tex.) 1893-current, December 03, 1987, Image 20

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The people behind the pages
by Staci Finch
You know it’s there. You see
it in various places around
campus. And you probably pick
one up, for the cartoons or
sports or opinion page or
It’s The Battalion.
But have you ever wondered
how it all gets put together?
Those stories obviously don’t
jump onto the pages all by
themselves. Somebody has to
put them there.
Right. Somebody does. As a
matter of fact, a lot of people
Of course, a newspaper has
to have an editor. That’s the
person who hires and fires staff
members and oversees all
aspects of the paper. Sondra
Pickard, Summer and Fall 1987
editor of The Battalion, said her
job comes down to basic
“When people call the paper,
they usually ask for the editor,
so I take phone calls about
complaints or story ideas, ” she
said. “When people have
complaints, I look into them,
and decide if we need to run a
Pickard, a senior journalism
major, said she also serves as a
liaison between the director of
Student Publications and The
“Any suggestions he-has as
to the business side of The
Battalion, he suggests to me, ”
she said.
Pickard said as editor, it is
important to stay on top of
current events, on campus and
“I have to keep on top of
issues, local and around the
world, because being editor I
need to know what is
newsworthy everywhere to be
able to guide which way the
paper is going, ” she said.
Pickard said she also writes a
column each week, and usually
spends over 40 hours a week
taking care of the paper s
But it would be very hard for
one person to make all the
decisions about a paper with a
circulation of 23,000. The
editor has several assistants,
one of whom is managing
editor John Jarvis.
Jarvis, a senior journalism
majbr, said he is a jack-of-all-
“My job description says I am
to handle payroll for a staff of
over 50, ” he said. “1 also
handle staff questions and
problems, but that is not all.
“The wire services send in
, the first few paragraphs of the
stories they will have for the
next day. I have to wait for
those to come in and then take
them to budget meeting where
we decide what stories will run.
“The thing 1 like best about
my job is that I am a utility
player. If any desk, night news,
city or whatever, is short a
person, I fill in. So I have to be
able to do everything on the
paper. ”
Jarvis said the biggest part of
his job is cleaning out the
computer files.
“I have to make sure all the
miscellaneous stories are
cleaned out of the computer
files, and everything is ready for
night news staff to come in and
work, ” he said. “That is the
biggest part of my job because I
have to have a thorough
knowledge of the computer
system. ”
But the list of editors does
not end here. Someone has to
assign all those reporters and
staff writers their stories. Meet
Rodney Rather, city editor.
“My assistants and I are in
charge of all the staff writers. ’’
Rather said. “I assign and edit
their stories, and I have ultimate
responsibility to see the story is
in shape before it goes to the
night news desk.”
Rather said he doesn’t have
a problem assigning stories to
writers, but sometimes the
writers have problems getting
the stories done.
“We had an inexperienced
staff this year, which made it
hard at the start. ” he said.
“Things have gotten better, but
one of the biggest problems we
still have is writers meeting
“The writers have classes,
and so their sources weren’t
always available when the staff
writers were calling. This
sometimes causes deadline
problems, and the stories don’t
get done, so I have to find
something to fill the space on
the page. ”
Of course, in order for the
city editors to have something
to do, The Battalion must have
writers. Enter the reporters and
staff writers.
Reporters are students
enrolled in the Reporting and
Editing I & II classes. They write
stories primarily for class
grades, but the stories are
assigned and edited by the
assistant city editor, and many
are published in The Battalion.
Staff writers, on the other
hand, apply for positions on
The Battalion and are paid for
their stories. Doug Driskell, a
senior journalism major, said
being a staff writer is not always
“Basically, I am responsible
for generating two stories for
the Batteach week, ” he said.
“The topics for those are either
given to me or I create them.
“This semsester I was
responsible for covering MSC
Council Committee. Covering
those meetings was probably
the hardest task I had all
semester, because most of their
work is done in committee
meetings and we only got
results, not process. ”
Driskell agreed with Rather
that it is hard being a student
and a staff writer at the same
“It is hard to sit around and
wait for people to call you back
when you have classes, ” he
said. “Sometimes you don’t
even get called back and you
spend what little time you have
tracking people down. ”
Driskell said although he had
problems, he gained a lot of
experience working for The
“Working for the Baft this
semsester has given me a taste
of what it might be like
reporting in the outside world, ”
Battalion photographer Sarah Cowan examines her
negatives to pick the perfect picture to print.