Sunday, May 18, 2008

Spring Yearbooks, the 6 o’clock News & Not It

You would think that after completing our last newspaper deadline, I could breathe a sigh of relief, kick my shoes off, sit on the couch, eat some bon-bons and watch mindless television.

Instead, I live in fear.

It’s May.

And, that means only one thing…

Yearbook delivery for spring yearbooks--and newscasters regaling yearbook disasters and mishaps across the country with live news reports at 5 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 10 o’clock. And, of course, just in case you missed it, stories posted at nano-speed across the internet.

It’s enough to make your head spin around faster than Linda Blair in the Exorcist.

“NOT IT, NOT IT, NOT IT!” I find myself screaming (like my students often do when I ask someone to do something), hoping that that little mantra will somehow save me from a yearbook catastrophe.

Every year it’s always something, somewhere. One high school located nearby was IT for two consecutive years--once for some inappropriate ad copy and once for inappropriate placeholder text. Other yearbook advisers have been chastised for allowing inappropriate content and/or photographs. Of course, that’s just the stuff that makes the news.

So far in my area this year, McKinney High School got to be IT and not in a very fun way with almost 600 of its yearbook photos altered by the photography company--with girls’ heads over there on boys’ bodies and boys’ heads on girls’ bodies and necks stretched, arms missing and outfits altered--all like a bad version of Scarecrow Gone Wild in the Wizard of Oz (“First they took my legs off and they threw them over there! Then they took my chest out and they threw it over there!”)

I’m still a bit foggy as to how almost 600 photos get altered and no one in the production/proof process notices it. Scary, huh? It certainly scares the bejeebers out of me.

Here’s a few tips I have for keeping under the radar and off the 6 o’clock news…


Richie’s Tips For Staying Out Of The News

Tip #5…
Anytime a staffer thinks it’s a great idea to put some sort of background as a graphic element to a page, warning bells should ring (and not the Bells of St. Mary’s either). Read all words and look at the background with a magnifying glass. They’re counting on your poor, aging eye sight or lack of street sense to run something by you…And it’s exactly the kind of thing that belongs in my “Things That Will Get You Fired” folder. (You know, the one located in my right hand desk drawer.)

Tip #4…
Beware of drop caps or big Initial letters. They probably spell something (and not a very Good something either). For instance, A student oftentimes Tries to write Something They Usually find Pretty funny but Inappropriate. Your Principal, of course, will fail to Have any sense of humor regarding this matter. Everyone, of course, will blame you, And want to Deliver and sacrifice you to the journalism gods.

Tip #3…
Avoid slang wherever possible… unless of course, urbandictionary.com is your new BFF, but that would mean that you would have to be able to access it. Otherwise, I can guarantee that your day will be worse than a really bad fuel day.

Tip #2…
When proofing pages, always read all names out loud to avoid the inclusion of bogus names that phonetically sound like bad words when combined with regular names. I’ll just give you one example–and only partially, after all, this is a PG site–that happened to a veteran adviser friend of mine years ago–Meoffe. Enough said.

And finally, drum roll-pah-leese, my No. 1 recommendation is…

Tip #1…
Remind your staffers that when they’re proofing pages if they notice someone’s arm missing or a guy’s head on a girl’s body, well, they just might want to say something to someone.

In the meantime…

NOT IT! NOT IT! NOT IT!


6 comments:

Melissa B. said...

OMG--what a nightmare! Last year, someone at the plant took it upon themselves to re-type a full-page senior ad in our yearbook that wasn't coming up correctly on their computers. Needless to say, the ad appeared in the yearbook full of typos, etc. That mother was madder than a wet hen, and so was I! She was later placated when the plant printed 25 full-sized copies of that page and sent them to her. Hoping for no mess-ups this year--fingers crossed!

Melissa B. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
loonyhiker said...

I'm so sorry but after I got done laughing and picking myself off the floor, I wondered: How does she sleep at night? I know I couldn't do this!

Anonymous said...

This is why you are the Yearbook/Newspaper person, and I am the English teacher. KG

Allison said...

THAT WAS SO CLEVER!

eiela said...

This sort of stress makes me SO glad I'm at an elementary school. I don't have a yearbook staff, so the most direct input the kids get is that the 5th graders get to run around with the camera and take a few snaps. (Which are usually to blurry to use). I'll remember this next time I gripe about doing the yearbook all by myself.