After nearly six months of operations, Beric'ht Talossan has emerged as Talossa's modern paper of record. The staff, which began with two reporters and a cartoonist, has now swollen to include eight contributors, including an opinion columnist, a language feature, and a recipe column. Beric'ht is also the first Talossan media property to embark on serious advertising, with three paid advertisers and a partnership agreement with RTRadio to feature its own thirty-second spot regularly on the air (recorded by the editor's long-suffering wife). And from first to last, the whole production springs from a single watchword: deadlines.
Meeting the biweekly deadline, according to the paper's staff, instills a sense of responsibility. The paper counts on the reporters to turn in their stories, the advertisers count on the editor to piece together the issue, and the readers count on the paper to provide regular news and commentary. All of it, according to the editor, would fall apart if they relied on the more usual "publish when you feel like it" style of Talossan journalism. Contrary to one might expect in a country so heavily focused on its online presence, then, Beric'ht's website and blog come in a distant second to the deadline-driven document published every other Sunday. It's counter-intuitive, but the roaring success of the paper proves that it works. The process begins with a staff email and review of the reception of the last issue; the editor discusses any major issues of the day, congratulates those with particularly good work, and sets out the deadlines to be met in the next two weeks. Up to that Friday, the editor works out the stories to be covered in the next issue, requesting some and assenting to others. Beric'ht is mostly a volunteer production, although all regular contributors will receive portions of advertising revenue in the future, and so it's important that staff report on topics that interest them.
Over the course of the second week, reporters write copy and ask their sources for quotes, while the editor starts laying out the issue in detail. Advertisements and stories and cartoons are all placed, with consideration for any special features. By the time the next Friday rolls around, almost all the stories should be in, and the editor spends his time copyediting and sorting out any last-minute legal concerns. The paper is laid out with Scribus desktop publishing software, which works on multiple platforms and accepts almost any input. Beric'ht's layout has dramatically improved over the course of the past year; stories that had previously leapt from page to page are now conservatively placed and decorated with relevant images and pull-quotes. The masthead of the paper was created using the font designed by Johannes Gutenberg for his 1 454 72-line Bible - that famous B has a lot of history behind it!
The website (http://berichttalossan.blogspot.com/) is simple and stark, intended entirely as an archive; stories are only added to the site after two weeks to prevent it from dominating the conversation. This sets the paper apart from most other Talossan media, which publish only as needed or sporadically. Indeed, the editor has asserted that he wouldn't even have a website if he thought it was a viable option. The paper is still seeking a webmaster (who might, perhaps, enjoy that aspect more).
In the future, Beric'ht has committed to meeting its regular publishing schedule, expanding its subscriber list (which already includes 1 4% of the population of the country), and taking on more reporting staff. Current contributors have set a remarkably high bar, regularly turning out stellar stories, and the paper is widely expected to dominate the next Talossan Journalism Awards.
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