Oberlin Blogs

Hump Day: Why I Love Wednesday Nights

April 2, 2009

Ma'ayan Plaut ’10

I know you're probably tired about hearing about journalism on this campus from so many of the bloggers (Chris and Alice work with me at the Review, John and Will work at the Grape) but like it or not, I write about what I know, and the paper is a huge part of my life now. I spend upwards of ten hours a week working with the Review, so there's no doubt that it is on my mind, in some capacity or another.

I've regaled you with tales of the early mornings at the Review office, and now I will share with you another pleasure of journalism that is more specific to Oberlin: Coincidental publication worknights, which occur every other Wednesday. Behind numeric locked doors lie the publication world's most beautiful thing: The chaos of layout nights. The Review has a long office on the east side of the Burton basement, graced with the smell of fabric softener and detergent from the laundry room next door. The Grape has an office on the opposite side of the basement next to the 24 hour computer lab, and copy editors sometimes overflow in the hallway to read to the sound of late-hour piano practising or ping pong games.

A weekly Wednesday with the Review involves initial edits on pieces and photos. The Grape does layout every other Wednesday. Like most things that are similar but different, we have a friendly rivalry. Long ago, there were softball games between the two publications. I don't remember who won, because it was before I worked either of them. The Grape constantly hates on the Review, the Review constantly rags on The Grape. Secretly, we are like twins separated at birth, because we are both lovingly laboring over newspaper children on a campus that likes to use our papers as doorstops during a late-night smokebreak or placemats at the Decafe.

Last year, when I was a crazed sophomore trying to cut her teeth as a photojournalist, I shot for both The Grape and the Review. It was a lovely setup, photographing all the time, sleeping next to none (remember, journalists never sleep), and getting things printed. There's a rush that comes with the printed image that has never been matched, so naturally, I worked for both papers. I was hooked, attending Grape meetings every two weeks and shooting myriad concerts, and photographing as much as possible for the Review, arts, news, sports, whatever they would give me, I would take. I became photo editor for them at the beginning of this school year, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for our sister paper across the basement.

This particular Wednesday evening, Melissa, my co-photo editor, and I had an average amount of photos to edit, some of last year's Drag Ball, this week's convocation speakers Diane and David Rehm, and some photos from the RJD2 concert from before break. Most photos would be trickling in on Thursday evening, due to the number of events happening throughout the day, so Melissa and I did some organizational work and edited the photos we had, until Brian Hodgkin, the Review's sports saviour and Jewish grandmother, brought us photos from this week's athletics games and minicookies. It's a usual thing, and has been for a long time, and everyone in the office looks forward to his contributions to the paper each week.

Tonight, I left the Review office at 10pm and decided to visit my friend Sandhya, who is the layout editor across the basement in the Grape office. She and I conferred about spring break and her birthday, which was on Monday, as she resized photographs for the front and back covers. Jamiroquai blared in the background from another layout computer. I knew within the next half hour a crew of people would be heading to Dascomb 4th meal to stock up on foodstuff to sustain them through the long hours until this week's issue is done.

It's a different vibe across the basement in the Grape office. Everyone is in the same room working, sitting on couches and working on personal computers, emailing edits back and forth. Since they spend only one night working on production, everything is happening at breakneck speed, but it is well-orchestrated and solid in its delivery, on Saturday afternoon. The Grape holds writers' meetings on the Sunday afternoon following the paper's printing. Every issue is more like an individual firework, exploding onto campus in one big colorful burst, with people talking about the issue for the next two weeks until the next issue comes out.

The Review office has two rooms, and almost everyone is working on the office computers. Edits are run back and forth by hand from section editors to copy editors, over two days. The office is all a-bustle for three days straight, from Wednesday afternoon edits, Thursday evening layouts, and early Friday morning final production and copy editing. The same evenings of production hold writers' meetings for the following week's issue to assign stories. It's a constant process of creation, like erecting a building one floor (or story, if you will :P) at a time, every week, to add to an already solid foundation.

We're wacky siblings that not only parents can love, cut from the same cloth but making something different with it. Either way, we have some pretty stylish designers making some great informed and artistic decisions.

Similar Blog Entries

A Different Experience

December 31, 2022

Phoebe McChesney

I have come to understand that there is a space and a place for everyone at Oberlin, even for those who straddle different cultural/social identities, like me.
Phoebe McChesney.