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posted: 10/10/2013 6:44 AM

News mission's the same, but Daily Herald jobs have changed

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  • Jim Baumann

       Jim Baumann
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

 
 

Editor's note: This article is part of a special series celebrating National Newspaper Week Oct. 6-12. The Week was designated in 1940 as a way to recognize the importance of newspapers to their communities.

While the look, feel and mission of newspapers may not have changed dramatically over the last 30 years, the work that goes into putting out the news certainly has.

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The technological revolution that began in the mid-80s gave newspapers new competition, challenges and opportunities and really shaped how we as journalists approach every day. With a greater sense of urgency, knowing that there are no limits to the types of competition we face.

Figuratively speaking, we're not the only guys with a press anymore. Whereas just 30 years ago our only competition was TV and radio, today you can scoop us instantly with a tweet or a video on YouTube. You can break news on Facebook or publish a breaking news photo on Instagram.

And you can blog to your heart's content. All on your phone, if you so desire.

We are mindful of all of that and learning of and responding to new "news" sources all of the time.

My first job with the Daily Herald was as police reporter. I worked the 2 to 11 p.m. shift, and my only concern was making the press deadline around midnight. If we had a murder at 3 a.m. or 10 p.m. on a given day, the result was the same: You wouldn't see it in your newspaper until 6 o'clock the next morning.

Today, we start feeding the website before many of you wake up. We have a "Dawn Patrol" reporter who monitors breaking news, traffic-related problems that could affect your commute and follow-ups to big stories that just published in the printed paper.

It's kind of a real-time wake-up call to accompany your print edition.

We also have a digital news staff that starts before the sun comes up to overhaul our website, work with the Dawn Patrol reporter and keep content fresh for early-morning readers.

The more traditional part of our day begins at 9 a.m. with our morning editorial planning meeting -- held since the dawn of time -- in which we discuss what stories all of our writers and photographers are working. But instead of just talking about what we have for the next day's paper, we talk about what kinds of material we can post to the website at regular intervals through the day, whether we are shooting video with a particular piece, whether there are interactive graphics to be done, and how we can stimulate conversation about our journalism on a variety of social media platforms.

It can be overwhelming at times, but you'll never find anyone on staff who is bored.

In this new age of newspapering, photographers also shoot video and write; writers also shoot photos and video.

Not too long ago, we transformed our copy desk -- the people who proof our work, write headlines, design and compose pages -- to also operate our website.

The age of the personal computer and all it has spawned has changed dramatically how we as journalists do our jobs. But our mission to bring you the news that matters to you has never wavered.

• Jim Baumann joined the Daily Herald in 1985. He grew up in Arlington Heights and was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Prospect High School in 2007. Named Managing Editor last year, he was appointed an assistant vice president last spring. He lives in Carpentersville. Friend him on Facebook at baumannjim@facebook.com.

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