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>  News Releases >   2003 >   April

A day in the life of The D

Posted 04/07/03, by Kathleen H. McDermott '03

D staff president Tara Kyle '04 and reporter/editor Megh Duwadi '05

Kyle with editor Alison Schmauch '04
Photographer Robert Strong '04
(all photos by Joe Mehling '69)

For three years, I worked as a news reporter/editor at The Dartmouth. Now an intern at the College's public affairs office, I was assigned to write on "A Day in the Life" of the newspaper.

Arriving around 3:30 p.m. on a February afternoon, I sit in the corner and decide I will simply quietly record my observations as the day progresses. But I quickly find myself engaged in work on a special set of articles concerning the potential war in Iraq.

Afternoons at The D are highly erratic. Some days, six or seven reporters cluster tightly in the newsroom, each at quasi-cubicle workstations with mismatched, outdated computers and phones that only D veterans understand how to operate. Other days, when assignments are evening speeches or have been turned in already, the newsroom experiences more of a quiet lull, punctuated by photographers and section editors passing through.

As the afternoon turns to evening, the volume slowly but steadily escalates.

"Sunday for Monday's [issue is] not going to happen, I have two papers due Monday," shouts a reporter, rushing into the office. "Is there anything else I can take instead?"

"How do you blitz alums?" another reporter calls out.

A third reporter is the only one who hears the phone ring. "Hello, The Dartmouth," he says. "Is Carl here? Is Carl here?" he asks, craning his head to look around the room.

Most of the time, reporters are assigned stories, conduct their interviews and research, and report to the newsroom to write them up. No problem. But every story has its twists and turns, and every source needs to be treated with care. Such is the case with a freshman reporter, who arrives at the newsroom just after 7:00 p.m. and announces her story can't be written.

Assigned to report on a discussion about misgivings that minority groups might have about America, she had been approached by members of the discussion group afterwards and asked not to write the article.

"It was open to the campus. Of course we can report on it," one student remarks.

"I just need to be careful to not place any of the quotes out of context. Some people said some very strong things. They're worried about being misrepresented," the reporter responds and begins to type. A half-hour later, she's finished her draft and the news editor sits down with her to make a few changes.

Once all the news articles for the next morning's paper are written and edited, the senior editor gives the articles a final approval and assists the layout editor in designing a layout.

At 9:52 p.m., the last story, covering a speech on the National Day of Remembrance for the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, is edited and ready to go.

"I have nothing left to do for The D right now. Oh my gosh-I have to do real work now!" says the reporter who wrote the story.

The newsroom clears out. The only lights that remain on into the wee hours of the night are those in the production room as editors converge to put the final touches on laying out their pages.

"Sports is going to be late tonight," one editor remarks.

"No, it's going to be an early night," another responds, her marking pen deftly editing the page. "I'm going out tonight."

- Kathleen H. McDermott '03

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