Photo Essay: From Pitch to Print

Photo of the Daily Cal newspaper rack on Sproul
William Webster/Senior Staff

 

Each Thursday, dozens of news, opinion, arts and sports stories land in The Daily Californian newspaper racks across campus and the city of Berkeley. How do they get there? This simple, eight-page paper is the product of about 400 staff members who collectively work hundreds of hours pitching, reporting, writing, editing, fact-checking, photographing, producing and designing. Staff members at every level of the paper are involved, ranging from upper management and editors who make larger scale decisions to reporters making cold calls, attending events and scouring through documents. 

While each paper passes through multiple departments, each individual article has its own story. 

That story begins with an idea. These ideas, known as pitches in news, are initially presented to the managing editor and the creative director in a meeting referred to as “news budget.” The managing editor decides on the story length, potential interviewees and the angle/approach taken for each news article. Meanwhile, the creative director assigns each story a visual. These visuals can range from a photo to an illustration to an infographic. 

After news budget — which is conducted every day from Sunday through Thursday — the managing editor and creative director lead a secondary preliminary “budget” meeting, in which pitches and visuals are approved for all non-news departments.

Theo Wyss-Flamm, Mallika Seshadri and Lisi Ludwig contributed to this story.


Reporting:

Reporters and photographers are sent to rallies, protests, sporting events, ASUC meetings, concerts and more. The night before an event, photographers receive pitches, assignment context as well as ideas for visualizations. With their SD cards clear and an appropriate lens ready to go, a photographer’s aim is to capture a single frame that summarizes an event as objectively as possible.

 

Photo of a Daily Cal editor working in the office

(William Webster/Senior Staff)

Photo of a Daily Cal photographer shooting a baseball game

(William Webster/Senior Staff)

Photo of a Daily Cal sports reporter at a baseball game

(William Webster/Senior Staff)

Writing:

Each evening, reporters receive story assignments that provide background information as well as the sources and angle for the article. After conducting some preliminary research, the reporter will email sources asking for an interview — their deadline being less than 24 hours away. After interviewing sources and conducting additional research, reporters write a draft due to their editors at 5 p.m.

 

Photo of a Daily Cal writer working in a library

(William Webster/Senior Staff)

Production:

Wednesday nights are harmonious madness at the Daily Cal office. Dozens of editors from each department gradually trickle through the front doors starting in the afternoon, and, as the rest of the student population settles into a night of homework, the editors of the Daily Cal consult spreadsheets, Adobe InDesign documents and each another until the final product is sent to the printer before 2 a.m.

 

Photo of Daily Cal editors working together

(William Webster/Senior Staff)

Printing:

For many decades, Fricke-Parks Press has handled the paper’s printing needs. Upon receiving the final virtual files, the printing plant ensures an issue’s photo and color quality through multiple test prints and ink corrections. In a swift 20 minutes, all copies are printed and await their trek from the plant’s home in Fremont back to Berkeley.

 

Photo of workers at Fricke-Parks printer

(William Webster/Senior Staff)

Photo of workers at Fricke-Parks printer

(William Webster/Senior Staff)

Distribution:

Early Thursday morning, the weekly print issue is distributed into the newspaper racks across campus and throughout the city. Now they are free for everyone in our community to take. 

It is at this point that the process begins again for the Daily Cal staff. Budgets are held the following evening, writers are assigned their next stories and the work continues.

While the Daily Cal has not printed four days a week since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we still publish unique content each day online with the hopes of one day returning to normal.

 

Photo of a student reading a Daily Cal newspaper

(William Webster/Senior Staff)