Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

A week in the life at the Carletonian

Ben More ’24
Carletonian editors finalizing articles for this week’s issue.

Otto von Bismarck is reported to have said, “Laws are like sausages; it is best not to see them being made.” One might replace “laws” with “Carletonian issues,” but I actually quite enjoy the sausage-making process — enough, at least, that it’s kept me coming back to our office in Myers Hall for the past four years. 

Every day means something at the Carletonian, so our staff keep everything running on a strict timeline in order to get a fresh stack of issues in Sayles every Friday. In this article, I hope to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the process and show you how the sausage gets made around here!


It all begins at 8:30 p.m. in Myers 120, where we have our weekly pitch meetings. Open to the whole campus, these meetings are where we pile onto mostly-comfy office chairs (or huddle on the floor, for those of us who arrive late) and get each other up to date on campus happenings, the hot takes that have been burning in our minds and whatever deranged jokes we deem worthy of Bald Spot status. 

Section editors and writers bring pitches of events happening on campus that they think might be important to cover. Most weeks, we completely fill our whiteboard with ideas! Since we strive to reflect the student body’s concerns, we don’t assign writers to stories; at the end of every pitch meeting, writers have the night to decide what they want to write about. So, of those 20-30 pitches, only a few get written about. Which ones are chosen doesn’t reflect the Carletonian’s views of which subjects are important: it reflects which articles writers are interested in writing. The beauty of student journalism is that anyone can have a say in our coverage.  In fact, a significant portion of our articles each week come from non-staff contributors, and we are always looking for more submissions!


Section editors typically take this day, and sometimes part of Wednesday, to work with writers on polishing their rough drafts into robust pieces of journalism. We have some staff writers assigned to specific sections and others who go wherever necessary, but non-staff contributors make up a significant proportion of our best articles as well. We try to provide timely feedback so that even first-time writers can feel welcome.


After a day of waiting with bated breath, our weekly editors’ meetings are where the Editors-in-Chief and section editors finally get to debrief and learn what will be in Friday’s issue! We go through everyone’s contributions, sort out photos for the week and decide which articles will go on the front page. I’m proud of our staff’s ability to meet deadlines, but I have witnessed the occasional article shortage. If you want, you can go through all my articles on the website and try to guess which ones I panic-wrote during a class so we’d have enough content, but I’ll never tell.


So, when does the sausage actually get made? Thursday, when we make one final push to turn a bunch of Google Docs into a newspaper for all of campus to read! It all goes down at the layout and copyediting meeting, starting bright and early at 10:45 a.m.

I typically lead a small yet scrappy team of copy editors as we comb each article for grammatical errors. Our style guide (Associated Press style, ubiquitous in American journalism) has a number of interesting — and infuriating — quirks: We abbreviate months, we write “one through ten” but “11 and 12” and we can’t use Oxford commas. Every time you don’t see a comma before the word “and,” that was probably because of us. 

Meanwhile, Becky leads our design team, pushing the limits of Adobe InDesign to fit every article on a page. We delegate each page to a different design editor but plan the layout beforehand, so everything gets to the right place. The process has been known to stretch into the evening, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel — and once each page has been rendered as a PDF and sent to our printers, there’s nothing left to do but wait. And sleep.


The time is 11 a.m. and whichever one of us agreed to handle distribution is hanging out in Sayles’s surprisingly warm loading dock waiting for our printers to deliver three fresh stacks of newspapers. One stack goes in the Sayles kiosk; the other two get spread around to various academic buildings. Ah, the taste of victory — spicy, like a Dr. Pepper from the nearby vending machine.

Saturday and Sunday:

We usually spend weekends partying it up since we are very popular and get invited to parties all the time. It’s true. This is also when we work with the section editors and social media managers to make sure all the content you see in print makes it onto, Instagram (@carletonianmedia) and Facebook. Oh, and remember that pitch meeting that now feels like so long ago? At 8 p.m. on Sunday, everyone who signed up for an article sends in their rough draft — and the process begins again.

Like a printing press onto a blank page, these steps have been inked into our brains and are now second nature. Time seems to fast-forward and loop at once, like it often does throughout the ten-week Carleton term. But, because of that, every new issue in Sayles hits me anew as a reminder of the immense effort our staff puts in each week and how much each team member cares about what they do. 

Some of us graduated directly to the Carletonian from our high school newspapers, while others have been writing for fun practically longer than they’ve been reading. A few of us learned to love writing for the first time through the Carletonian — even if it’s also how most of us learned to hate it. We come from practically every academic department and even a few different countries. Whatever brought us here, we’re all sticking around for the same reason: hard-hitting journalism, from the student body to the rest of the world. And, we’ll be opening applications for Winter Term over break, so if you’re looking for something to do…

So, see ya at a pitch meeting sometime?

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