The Courier Editorial Process

The Courier, Woodcraft Folk's co-operative newspaper, is put together termly. A big part of the mandate given to The Courier by Woodcraft Folk is to be of the highest quality possible. Because of this each edition although just 12 pages long takes hundreds of hours to plan. write. edit design and distribute. As a result writing contributing to The Courier is rarely as simple as just writing something and sending it across. This super quick guide is intended to let you know how The Courier's editorial process works so if you do want to contribute to The Courier you can easily.

The Courier is published 3 times a year towards the end of the term. This is because each newspaper is packed with ideas for Woodcraft Folk leaders to work into their group nights so we try to get The Courier to come out shortly before most groups have their planning meetings for the coming term.

Planning Stage

Generally planning for an issue begins 3 months before that issues needs to go to press. The editorial team meet up to discuss idea they've been considering or speaking about with other people. Pitches and suggestions that have been made by volunteers and staff will be considered and curated into a first draft flat plan of the issue. This meeting is very important, it allows the editorial team to plan a rough shape for the entire issue, balancing the kinds of story and exploring themes - this process is what enables The Courier to have an effective editorial agenda.

Commissioning Stage

Once the rough plan is in place the editorial team work with volunteers who've pitched articles to turn those ideas into fully fleshed out pieces. Its here that word counts are set and illustrations or photographs tracked down. The team will also commission pieces and occasionally write some themselves exploring a particular issue.


Editing Stage & Design Stage

As articles being to trickle in there is an editing stage. Often contributors have written too many words so articles need to be cut down and refined. Sub editors check the accuracy of information and the quality of how it is communicated. Simultaneously The Courier is laid out in design software. The process of editing and designing have to work together fluidly. At this stage lots of little sections are also sorted such as the Calendar and New Resources.


Problems

Often there are hiccups even at this late stage, usually its something like a contributor doesn't file a piece they've said they will leaving a hole. As a result the editorial team have be creative and flexible to keep the paper on track.


Proofing Stage

As the The Courier approaches completion it needs to be proofed, proofed and proofed again. Spelling, grammar, art and style checks guarantee a high standard of finished product.


Sign Off

The Courier is signed off by the editor-in-chief of The Courier and either the General Secretary or Chair of Woodcraft Folk. The editorial board (who at the campaigns and communications team of General Council) also have an opportunity to see the paper before it goes to press as does the Woodcraft Folk Communications Officer and suggest last minute tweaks and corrections.

So while there is flexibility throughout the whole 3 month editorial process the key date is that first editorial meeting towards the start of the term. That's by far the best time to pitch ideas either by calling or by writing something short about what you'd like to put into The Courier. There's not need to pen the entire piece - just a paragraph pitch about what you've got in mind is perfect.