Five days a week, The Badger Herald is produced by an entirely student staff and 15,000 copies are distributed around the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Exceptions are the rule, but our daily routine goes something like this:
- During business hours, the office is packed with advertising and business staff members. They sell and design ads, handle money and generally keep things running smoothly. Editors are focused on the campus, state and nation, with their ears to phones and their eyes on e-mail throughout the day, identifying important stories and assigning reporters and photographers.
- Around 5 p.m., the editorial staff moves into place. The first few hours each night involve a frenzy of meetings, reporting and decision-making. The night’s story list is finalized and designers arrive to consider how to best combine the day’s words and images.
- Most stories are due at 8 p.m., and designers begin planning and assembling their pages. Throughout the night, stories are edited, revised and re-edited, photos are selected and prepared, and headlines are written.
- Some sections of the paper — namely ArtsEtc., Sports and Opinion — are generally finished around 11 p.m., but News is not completed until past midnight. Before the paper is “put to bed,” top editors reread stories, approve headlines and check the design for adherence to style guidelines.
The Badger Herald is designed and assembled in Adobe InDesign, running in MacOS X on a variety of Apple Mac Pros. Photographers and designers use Adobe Photoshop CS3 to tweak colors, size images and create special graphics. The Creative Department uses Adobe Illustrator throughout the day to design advertisements. At the end of the night, pages are saved as PDFs using Acrobat Distiller and sent via FTP to our printer, Madison’s very own Capital Newspapers (publisher of the Wisconsin State Journal, Capital Times and madison.com).
Our current design style guide was developed in 2003 by then-editor in chief Lars Russell and design director Heidi Olsen. Tweaks have been made since then to enhance legibility and clarity. Currently, the Herald uses the following typefaces:
- Warnock Pro Bold for lead and hard news headlines
- Chaparral Pro Regular for features, columns, arts and opinions
- Univers 55 Oblique for all subheads
- 9pt Palatino for all body text
- Univers 65 Bold for labels and graphic headings
The content and ads are delivered via a custom back-end configuration built on MovableType and OpenX. John Gruber’s SmartyPants fixes some typographical issues that plague the Web, and Markdown simplifies writing and editing for the Web. Comics are currently served up with Noel Jackson’s PhotoStack. PHP and Perl, two server side programming languages, are used for customization of the above mentioned packages and for making the site highly modular.
Content is also offered in a series of RSS feeds.