Ready for Anything
Anticipating the Labor Day holiday weekend, Newsweek staffers hastened to wrap up production of the September 1, 1997, issue a day early. By Saturday night, August 30, the magazine was already on press and Newsweek's editorial, art and production personnel were out on the town, on vacation or tucked snugly in their beds (visions of barbecues and quality time with family and friends dancing in their heads).
As the clock ticked its way into Sunday in New York City, however, the tragedy that would shock the world proved an especially rude awakening for the newsweekly's staff and publishing partners. News of Diana's death broke and web presses at Newsweek's domestic printers came to a standstill, providing an appropriate moment of silence for the fallen princess.
The respite was brief, broken by a collective deep breath and a whirlwind of activity. With nearly superhuman speed, Newsweek was able to pull together a team to create a new cover story. Writers wrote, staffers gathered images, art directors built pages and editors fine-tuned. Files raced from workstation to workstation, then to the color separator for final transmission to the printers.
In a matter of mere hours, presses were up and running again—this time printing an issue for U.S. distribution that included comprehensive, up-to-the-minute pictorial and text coverage of what was generally considered the biggest news story of the year.
Readers who picked up copies at newsstands or received their issues in the mail after the holiday had their news on time and on target. As far as they knew, Newsweek simply did its job, as usual. And Newsweek wouldn't have it any other way.
Certainly, eleventh-hour reporting of a story of such epic proportions is the exception rather than the rule, but Newsweek needs to be prepared for any contingency, emergency or difficulty to maintain its position as a premier newsweekly. Even business as usual requires quite a game plan. Today, the magazine is ready for anything, thanks in large part to its computer-to-plate workflow—developed through in-house technology implementation; an unrelenting effort toward continuous improvement; and partnerships with digital service pro- viders, CTP-capable printers and other vendors.