Pride: Design under deadline

As a page designer, I design and edit newspaper pages for daily and weekly publications in Virginia and North Carolina. This means I write headlines/decks/cutlines, edit local and wire copy and design lifestyles, sports and news sections. My job as a page designer has allowed me to work well under pressure with multiple deadlines per day.

That is the resume version of my job. What my resume doesn’t tell you is the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes along with my job.

I started my job as a page designer on June 1, 2010 with no design experience at all. Before accepting the job, I was an editor at a weekly publication and only had experience with writing and editing. The visual aspect of journalism was foreign –something I briefly learned in copy editing/page designing class my senior year of college. Nonetheless, it was something I needed to learn — how to package stories and present content in a truthful way that also was aesthetically pleasing.

The concept of presenting content in an aesthetic manner while under deadline can be very difficult, especially when there is late breaking news. I deal with editors dropping late stories to me all the time, but late breaking world news is a whole different can of worms.

On Sunday, May 1, I learned what it meant to completely scrap an entire newspaper front last minute to make room for late breaking news. At 10:45 p.m., 15 minutes before my deadline, President Barack Obama confirmed that Osama bin Laden was dead.

I had to start from scratch and completely redesign my front, deleting my long, hard hours of design to make room for important world news. This probably sounds frustrating, but it was one of the most exciting and rewarding evenings I’ve had working at the editing center.

As my coworkers and I were gathering around the television, quietly celebrating this act of justice, a surge of adrenaline and pride was flowing in me, knowing that I had a role in spreading this news — knowing that the next day, when this community of people woke up and looked at the front page of the paper, it was because I did my job. My front page certainly wasn’t the most visually appealing or creative front page out there, but it served it’s purpose by presenting the news in a straight-forward manner. I drove home in the wee hours of the morning knowing that I had done my job — and done a good job.

In the most high-pressure, time-crunching situations at work, I find that I surprise and impress myself;  it’s a great feeling to have when you leave work every night. Situations such as bin Laden’s death make me realize how exciting it is working in the news industry. It makes me proud to say that I’m a writer, editor and page designer. It makes me proud to be a journalist.

This is the first of many posts. Thank you for reading and stay tuned.


2 thoughts on “Pride: Design under deadline

  1. Bob Berwyn says:

    Glad to see you blogging about journalism. Check out #wjchat on Twitter Wed. evenings – it’s a bunch good journalism tweeps talking about online stuff. Oh, and the bin Laden front page looks great. Super clean, simple and direct.

  2. marissahermanson says:

    Thank you, Bob! I see you run My family has a place up in Breck and I’ve been skiing up there since I learned how to walk. Love the site. I’m looking to move back to Colorado. Miss it.

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