Knowing your role is the key to success

August 19, 2002|by TIM SHEA

Everybody fills a role at the Herald-Mail Co., from the publisher to those who deliver the papers to your front door or the nearest convenience store.

Most of the newsroom personnel pretty much have a specific job, whether it's a reporter covering a specific beat or an editor in charge of one of the sections in the paper.

Then, there are those few people who end up playing the utility role whenever someone goes on vacation or needs a day off or has to work on a special section of the paper.

It's kind of like F.P. Santangelo, who played several years ago for the Montreal Expos. He was a good player, but not great at any one position. He filled in wherever the Expos needed him to play, whether it was in the outfield, the infield or even at catcher.


I guess you can call me the F.P. Santangelo of The Herald-Mail newsroom.

Whenever we're at full staff, I usually do the Washington County page, the obituary page and some other local pages. On Sunday nights, I almost always do the front page for the Monday Morning Herald.

Recently, I've played a few other roles in the newsroom.

Whenever Bill Kohler gets a day off, I slide over and play the role of Tri-State editor. It's a job I think I can handle pretty well for a couple of days at a time.

I lived in Martinsburg, W.Va., for a couple of years and I know the issues down in Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties pretty well. I've also learned more about what the issues are in Franklin and Fulton counties in Pennsylvania through my nearly two years at The Herald-Mail.

While Dick Fleming works on the paper's annual Welcome section that comes out in September, I am doing the Sunday Money pages. This involves going through a lot of press releases when putting together the business briefs and business people columns that go on page F3 every Sunday, plus coming up with a variety of other stories with a local slant to put together the four pages.

Sometimes, I even get to work on The Daily Mail whenever one of the three editors who works on that paper goes on vacation. I enjoy being able to go through the Associated Press wires to find the top stories to put on the Nation/World and business pages. Plus, it's nice to be able to have my workday end at 3 p.m. - instead of it starting at 4 p.m. - once in a while.

I also spent a few days in July filling Linda Duffield's role as managing editor of The Morning Herald. All that you need to do in that role is read stories - a lot of stories, including front-page stories, Washington County stories, Tri-State stories and obituaries. And after you read all of those stories, you need to proofread all of the pages before they get sent to the pressroom.

I've even written a column for sports, put together the occasional church page and tried to do whatever else has been necessary to get the next day's paper out.

In the end, I guess my role at The Herald-Mail is that I really don't have a specific role. But that's what I like to do. Some people prefer to do one thing and stick with it without having the daily routine interrupted. I get stale if I do the same thing every day, and it's good to know what's going on with many facets of our news coverage.

Just don't expect me to start delivering the papers anytime soon.

Tim Shea is a copy editor at The Herald-Mail. He can be contacted at 301-733-5131, extension 7587, or by e-mail at

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