By Gretchen Wehmhoff
The other day a fan of the Skagway News approached Melinda.
“It must be nice that Gretchen is here to give you a break,” she said cheerily.
Melinda shared the moment with me and we realized that while she and I, as owners, both share the duties of running a newspaper, some people may not really know much about my role at the Skagway News, especially since I do so much remotely in Chugiak. So here is an A to Z of what we do, or try to do, at the paper. A few letters didn’t make the cut.
“A” is for accounts payable, receivable and accounting. I do the billing, invoicing, payroll (rarely) and receive payments. None of this is my forte, but it needs to be done. Some months I’m better than others depending on how my other two jobs are going.
“A” is also for advertising. Yes, I get to receive, place and sell ads. Some ads need a little creative help, most come to me just fine. When we need affidavits of publication for government and agency ads, my husband Joe runs to the credit union to have the form notarized. This was exceptionally helpful during the pandemic before we were both vaccinated.
“C” and “D” are for circulation and distribution. When the paper comes off the press from Wasilla it is delivered to my house. I print labels, fill out forms for the post office periodical mailings, give USPS a check, label the papers and send them off to you. While I am in Skagway, I send the files to our printer who helps us. On Friday, I build the email blast we send to subscribers with the new paper and links to the website. I mail a box of papers to Melinda, which she distributes around town, exchanging the new papers for the last issue.
Hey, by the way, what’s with that? Why are there papers left? (We did hear that some of our avid readers at the laundromat like to read the paper and put them back.)
“C” is also for classifieds and calendars. Yep, I update those, too.
“E” is for edit. That’s Melinda. Don’t even try to slip an extra comma by her. I come from the traditional typing era, so she patiently removes my extra space after periods. If you need a good copy editor, you need to talk to Melinda. She is meticulous. I really think she should get paid more. We’ll talk to the owners.
“F” is for Facebook. We share this job. We post our paper, announcements and requests for help on our page and the various Skagway Facebook pages. Melinda discovered the Facebook connection before we even arrived. Gotta love her gifs.
“F” is also for Fun Page. Every issue I gather new puzzles and coloring art for the page. We are pleased to hear that the Fun Page has become a favorite for many subscribers.
“G” is for garbage. I’m always grateful for Melinda taking care of that.
“L” is for layout. I lay out the paper, positioning stories, photos and ads into the final product you receive in your mailbox. I update the masthead, try to find an inch here or there when we are tight on space and wrangle the assets for color when we move from the eight page to the 12-page, where color isn’t on all pages. I take ads at the last minute and try my best to include obituaries as soon as we get them. I eat, sleep and dream InDesign with a few servings of Photoshop and Illustrator.
“M” is for mail. Melinda checks the post office and I check the email. Melinda scans the bills and checks, filing them in Dropbox for me to credit or pay. I forward emails to Melinda and check email for editor, publisher, sales and email@example.com.
“N” is for news. Both Melinda and I try to keep up with what is happening. Melinda is in town all of the time, attends assembly meetings, finance meetings and any other meetings she can. She has a good nose for news. Sometimes she is fed tidbits by a growing number of observant stringers in town. You know who you are. Thank you.
“O” is for OOPS! We both have said that (and other relative words) on occasion when we miss a major typo. We just try to forget it ever happened…
“P” is for production. After I lay out the paper, I check each photo to convert it to CMYK format. CMYK is an acronym for cyan, magenta, yellow and black, the standard colors used to formulate the full color photos you see in the print edition. The color format you see online is RGB. RGB is based on fluid combinations of red, green and blue (thus RGB) light, ideal for digital use, but not suitable for the printing press. After I check the color and Melinda and I proof the issue, I prep the paper templates for the printer and send it off Wednesday morning. I also convert the paper to an interactive pdf for the website.
“P” is also for photography. We both take photos. I love taking candid photos of people when they aren’t looking. We have been grateful to the many talented photographers in Skagway who have contributed to the SN. Hopefully, this summer I will fill our files with new stock photography. Look for galleries on our website while I’m in town. Our most recents collections cover the drag show and Independence Day in Skagway.
“S” is for subscriptions. When you sign up or renew, I make sure your subscription is updated. Denise in the bookstore has been a great collector of renewals when we aren’t in. We are beta testing new subscription software for receiving and billing subscriptions. Beta is another word for boo boo. I need to apologize for the errant email some of you received last week. The software company will also be sending you an email.
“S” is for sleep. We don’t do that much.
“T” is for trying something new. We are constantly evaluating what works and how we can expand or improve the paper with our itty bitty budget.
“U” is for a united front. We are the face of the paper and every major decision is made with thoughtful conversation. We don’t always agree, but our differing points-of-view help us come to the best conclusions.
“V” is for the Visitors Guide. Right now I am laying out the 2021 Skaguay Alaskan Visitors Guide. It is a shorter run due to the reduced ship schedule. Look for a few new stories by Melinda, myself and Aly deAngelus, acting editor while Skagway waited for the new owners to show up.
“W” is for website. Currently, I post the stories, photos and the interactive pdf to our website, www.skagwaynews.com. Hopefully, after school starts, Melinda will be doing that as well.
“W” is also for writing. You have probably noticed that Melinda carries the lion’s share of writing. We each write one column a month and I try to get in a few stories a month. We do our best to be accurate and fair.
“Z” is for Zoom. At least three times a week Melinda and I meet via Zoom. We decide the story line-up, discuss tough topics, catch up on our lives and laugh a lot. On deadline night we proof the paper over Zoom with Melinda’s eagle eye and my flying fingers. It is usually after midnight when we finish, but we have a system and our families seem to understand.
So now you know our ABC’s . . . it’s time for us to get some Z’s…