Tabs, magazines and newspapers, Oh My!

Published 10:44 am Friday, August 9, 2013

I’m going to make a mistake here and open up the fourth wall.

For those of you who don’t know what that is, the fourth wall is the invisible barrier that separates a theater stage between the performers and the audience. In breaking the wall, performers would include or speak directly to the audience. The old guard of the theater would never, ever, ever have that barrier broken, while there is a new guard coming up who break that wall on the regular.

The process that goes into making a community newspaper is ugly, though we are always trying to improve it. In fact, some details are probably better left unsaid, so as to not revolt you, the audience, too much.

In the newspaper industry, the mantra has become do more with less. It is the same with all industries, perhaps, but it has particularly hit newspapers. Or at least, newspapers are what I know, so it is what I’ll write about.

Did you know that there was once a person at a newspaper who only wrote headlines? That’s it. He or she would come in, write maybe 100 words on a good day, and then call it a day. Granted, these were probably the most important 100 words in the newspaper, as besides the photography, headlines are what drive readers into a story.

Gone are luxuries such as a headline writer or people who only review copy.

Today, just a handful of us are constantly having to switch between thoughts on the tabs we produce, the magazine, the newspaper and even the website. And you know what? While it would be nice to have some extra hands, we manage to do the job with a pretty good degree of success.

Sometimes errors slip through. Sometimes something that absolutely should not have been left out gets left out. But we all do work hard to ensure that the best products possible go on your kitchen tables, coffee tables or even your computer screens.

I’m new and still learning to multitask and fit all of this into my schedule, so I imagine it will only get better with time.

Also because of doing more with less, I have been privy to opportunities that I may have otherwise never received, such as getting to interview Florida-Georgia Line. If I had an entertainment editor, I would have never gotten that interview. But it was fun getting to know Tyler Hubbard a little, and I’ll also get to have a photo shoot with them that otherwise would have gone to the staff photographer, if one existed.

Which reminds me, this Sunday included in your newspaper will be the tab for the Franklin-Southampton County Fair. A lot of work went into it, from our advertising department taking a break from their normal work of selling the newspaper, to making sure this packet could have as much space as possible for all of the stuff going on at the fair — the fair queen pageant, the livestock happenings, and of course, Florida-Georgia Line performing Friday evening.

I encourage you to give it a read — there is a lot of cool stuff in there.

Also, we will be bringing you not one tab, but two in the near future. The football tab is on the horizon, scheduled to print next week, in time for this first game of the year on Aug. 16 when Windsor High takes the field at Matthews.

I, along with other members of my staff, including some new people, have been working on this and expect it to be a cool supplement. I am certainly excited about football starting, coming from the Louisiana/Mississippi border where Friday nights in the fall are big. I’ve come to understand that folks in the Western Tidewater region take their football just as seriously, so while I know that I will not get to bed before 1 a.m. on Fridays this fall, I’m excited to bring the community football news on Saturday mornings.

Breaking the fourth wall is an old trope, even though for a long period people in theater didn’t like breaking it. While I don’t plan to do it regularly, if it is good enough for Shakespeare, it is good enough for me.

CAIN MADDEN is the managing editor of The Tidewater News. He should probably be thinking about articles for this fall’s edition of Western Tidewater Living. He can be reached at