Texans Eager to Learn: Vernon, Texas

When I walk into a newsroom for the first time, there’s always a moment of hesitation as I gauge how prepared the group is for my visit. I’m normally greeted with one of two emotions: either, “Who are you and why are you here,” or “We have been waiting for you!”

Fortunately, for me, most groups are excited when I arrive and look forward to learning new skills and finding solutions to existing problems. Sometimes, however, it’s a combination of the two. And sometimes, thank goodness, I’m pleasantly surprised.

Such was the case when I arrived at the offices of The Vernon Daily Record, in the small town of Vernon, Texas (pop. 11,000) a few days ago. After arriving a bit early, I was greeted by a group of eager students, among them was Peyton McCormick, editor of a nearby sister newspaper.

We discussed what we might cover during the day, when Peyton spoke up. “We’re eager to learn. Teach us what we need to know.”

I knew right then that it was going to be a great day. Everyone had experience in InDesign and Photoshop, but agreed that they had primarily learned what they knew on their own. They were eager for anything I could share with them. And share I did. We covered both basics and advanced skills in InDesign.

Their eyes lit up when I showed them how to alphabetize a list using a script. They grew even bigger when I taught them how to merge an Excel database with InDesign to create their graduation layout automatically.

We went on to cover basic and advanced photo editing skills, then spent more time than I had planned discussing issues with PDF files. Like many papers I visit, there were a host of printing issues that were caused unknowingly by faulty PDF files. By the time we finished, they knew how to preflight and fix any PDF issue that might come their way.

Following the software training, the entire staff gathered together to look through their pages and brainstorm ideas to improve the appearance of the paper.

I’ve already heard from a couple of folks I met in Vernon and I’m anxiously awaiting seeing future issues of their paper to see how their new skills affect the quality of their pages.

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