What really happens in a newsroom

Published: January 29, 2011

Enter anytime before 12:00 pm and the place will be dead. PHOTO: SALEHA RIAZ

Red, white and black with sub-editors crawling around, The Express Tribune newsroom is like an animal farm coming to life.

Enter anytime before 12:00 pm and the place will be dead. You’ll probably notice dust balls rolling around or a thick layer of dust on the keyboards.

After 3:00 pm, the subbers start arriving. With a flash of pink or a dash of some other eye-blinding colour, and the clink clonk of the keyboard, the newsroom slowly starts coming to life.

By 4:00 pm everyone is trying to finalise their slug sheet. (A slug sheet is a sheet (duh!) with a rough idea of what a reporter will be filing in – this requires a lot of effort on the part of the subber who has to chase the reporter, who is either busy at an event/investigation or ignoring your phone calls or just does not want to talk to you (this rarely happens and is an exaggeration). Some reporters are nice enough to text/e-mail their slug to the subbers.

As 6:00pm approaches, the big boss arrives and there is a certain urgency in the air. The national, city and other desks start editing briefs (little bits of news which don’t really make front or any other page) and look like they are doing work.

At 7:00pm the reporters start filing their pieces (on a good day this should be done by 6:30pm at the latest) – so from 8:00pm to 10:00pm no one breathes – everyone is busy editing, filing stories, fighting over stories and running around trying to make a page – this is a regular phrase heard around the newsroom after 9:00pm, the subbers run around putting edited stories/photos/briefs/prayers timings/events on the page while working around set ads and trying to make is look appealing for the reader.

When the clock strikes 11:00pm, most subbers are free to go home while some poor souls are left behind to proof the page and send it to print. (The national desk works crazy hours, they can be found lurking around even at 2:00am).

There is an endless supply of chai (coffee is available too but you have to make it yourself), food trips to PSO and let’s not forget all the food deliveries from McDonald’s and 14th Street, so no one is ever hungry – although they all whine about it all the time – really.

And then they all go home, sleep and start all over again.

Tooba Masood

Tooba Masood

A senior sub-editor on the Peshawar Desk at The Express Tribune. She tweets @tabahitooba (twitter.com/tabahitooba)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

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