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The redoubtable Lesley Mofokeng, entertainment reporter extraordinaire at the Sunday Times has started a blog on the Times platfrom. It will follow his life as Mr Entertainment and, of late, as a contestant in the Strictly Come Dancing competition. He is the second blogger on our platform following the somewhat hurried launch of the Bullog.

We have been on a steep learning curve since Wednesday last week when we started working to our regular schedule. Here are some issues:

 Our final dummy has a lot of added value concepts that require focus and hard work to find, write, edit and lay out. The streamlining of scheduling and the features production process has been the focus of a lot of energy and is now more or less on track.

The templates for our features section were not ready and held us back substantially on our Thursday night deadline. The templates should make design easier on regular pages, but the fact that they weren’t ready meant they had to be designed while subs waited for them to do the actual pages. Tick tock.

Picture scanning was slow. A bureaucratic snafu of some kind as the scanning department was not ready for our first dummy production run for Friday’s paper and things churned very slowly. They are probably wondering why they have to expend all this energy on something that is not printing yet when they have ‘real’ newspapers to produce.

 Multimedia production was happening on big stories and the pods were working together – although there were occassional clashes over who gets priority at interviews, for example – so I’m expecting that the web site is going to rock with video and podcasts.

 All in all, there was quite a bit of first night stuff going on. Pages not following proofing processes, that sort of thing. We had a great meeting on Friday to go through each and every problem and to identify solutions. Fortunately, the enthusiasm and solution-orientation of the team has meant that we are now sailing along relatively smoothly.

Masthead, originally uploaded by hartleyr.

A glimpse of the masthead for our friday dummy while it was being designed …

Gotta love those brilliant Amatomu buzzgraphs. Check this one out on the Bulls vs Sharks.

Meanwhile, SA Rugby has issued an official statement on how much Luke Watson bench-pressed. Really.

First Splash

First Splash, originally uploaded by hartleyr.

An ever-so-slightly tense news editor, Marvin Meintjies, edits the first splash contender after our first dummy run today. Note the clenched fist …

 Added Friday morning: I can happily report that no other newspaper had our splash! Phew!

Read this great piece from Wired about over-reaction to the Virginia Tech killings. In light of the recent Blog Day Afternoon over Bullard, this sentence did catch my eye:

A high school student was suspended for customizing a first-person shooter game with a map of his school.

Just the kind of geek that … ?

… in the conference room at our first ever proper “news conference” at 11AM. I said: “This is our first ever news confere…” then this fire alarm went off. We got up and joined a 20 minute queue to get out of our fire exit (all toast by then, I should imagine) and adjourned to the parking lot where the whole of Johncom was assembled. There were dummies with legs blown off being tended to by fire marshalls. One guy was “acting” like a victim, but he looked like he needed a doctor for real to me. There was a flanking movement to head off to Vida and get coffee, but this was intercepted by a very serious looking marshall. We turned back because it looked like she was packing heat and prepared to use it. Eventually, after a silver blanket was placed over the corpse, we were allowed back into the building where we re-assembled in the conference room. Then we had our first ever news conference.

Fred Khumalo, columnist extraordinary sent out a very amusing email, which I quote here assuming creative commons licence:

The 20 or so minutes we were cajoled into spending outside the building, perfecting our tans, produced a thought provoking interaction between Herzilet and myself (don’t mention the very deep tans that we achieved in the process). We noted that all the women standing there with us all had their handbags with them, their cellphones, their lipsticks and other paraphernalia. The guys, on the other hand, were empty handed, having left their car keys, laptops, memory sticks, cigarettes, sometimes even their brains on the desk. Women are always like this – they don’t want to let go. In clinging to their bags, they could have delayed an evacuation if there was a real emergency. Have you noticed pictures or TV footage from war-torn areas? Women always have children strapped to their backs; they have wardrobes and chickens balanced precariously on their heads. With one of their free hands they are dragging an obstinate goat. Men, on the other hand, being sensible as they are, get into action at the slightest provocation. And action involves the simple act of showing a clean pair of heels without an iota of guilt in their hearts. Women remind me of Lot’s wife who defied God that fateful afternoon. Instead of getting the fuck out of Gomorrah and leave everything behind as the great man had instructed, she left the place reluctantly… and on the outskirts of the city, the city where she’d left her treasured Welcome Dover stove and AMC pots and some barrels of make-up, she looked back… and turned into a stump of salt. Now, there’s a lesson somewhere for the ladies.  

He should be blogging …