A look into how The Cauldron is made: a photo story

By: Beth Casteel

A shrill beep rings out on the alarm that was set the night prior. Used coffee cups, messily written down notes in a worn notebook and an almost dead laptop are placed sporadically around the room.

While the mess is eerily reminiscent of what a student’s room would look like during an exam week, that’s not what this is. This mess is one that happens every other week for a certain group of students, and it marks last minute preparation for a newspaper layout.

Whether it’s writing the stories (and the whole other list of horrors that come with it) to sitting in a cramped space for hours on end trying to insert stories into an unforgiving InDesign layout, putting a newspaper together is a lot of work.

For the sake of transparency, layout days can be one of the most frustrating aspects of writing for the paper. Hours are spent every other Sunday sitting in the cramped office space that’s home to The Cauldron.

The days are typically spent writing, editing and laying out stories into InDesign. While the work can seem endless and the details tedious, that doesn’t mean we as a staff don’t enjoy those long hours and sleepless nights.

As a layout day comes to an end and the lights to the office are shut off, there’s a feeling of relief and maybe even a little pride that another issue of the paper was created for you, the readers, to enjoy. While we love doing this job, it’s a lot of work.

So, we thought the best way to explain what goes into this paper, would be to show you.

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Aside from pitching the stories, finding writers willing to spare some time, writing and interviewing for those pitched stories and not losing our minds in the process, the first official start of layout day is setting up each section’s pages. This process starts with putting the stories into InDesign and then making it fit into that section.

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Designing what the newspaper looks like is only half the battle when it comes to an official layout day. Once each editor finishes designing their section, it’s then time for the second half of the layout: editing the stories. It’s a long process and bigger headache than we’d admit, but there’s nothing wrong with over-checking for errors.

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As with anything, there are some rules when doing a layout. Those rules can range from checking to make sure the type matches up to ensure there are no errors. Once a section is laid out, fellow editors check to make sure the rules are met, and if it all checks out, they initial off that section and move onto the next.

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As each section of the newspaper is read and edited by the entirety of The Cauldron’s editorial staff, the final piece of the puzzle is putting each section in a master file. This file, which is created by the Editor-In-Chief at the end of the day, is then sent to the printer to make the actual paper a tangible thing for students to read.

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Once the layout is done and we’ve had time to process the ups and downs of the last issue, we then get to the exciting part: receiving the newspaper. Typically dropped off in a large stack that gets placed neatly by the door the Tuesday after layout, we get to see that the hard work paid off. After that, we look forward to doing it all again.

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