Behind the Scenes at the Daily

Life at the Michigan Daily isn’t all glitz and glamor and unimaginable fame. Sure, the paper has been the focus of a “Daily Show” skit, and eight Pulitzer Prize winners have roamed its hallowed halls. But at the end of the day, it’s about work. Well that, and the people.
By Alex Bernard


Read time: 2 minutes
10/24/11 Students prep the next day's issue of the Michigan Daily at the Student Publications Building during a "Day in the Life" of the University of Michigan on October 24, 2011.

People ask me all the time, “Alex, what’s it like to write for the Michigan Daily?”

And I say, “One. How do you know my name? Two. It’s wonderful.”

Here’s what a typical Sunday night looks like for a Daily arts editor:

3:05 p.m.: Arrive at the Daily an hour before you’re supposed to because you’ve got nowhere else to go.

3:55 p.m.: Finish your second episode of “30 Rock.”

4 p.m.: Greet everyone. Hug everyone. Compliment Kathleen: “Whoa! Those pants are awesome!”

4:10 p.m.: Somebody makes a comment about starting on Michigan time. One person at the copy desk laughs.

4:15 p.m.: Full-section meeting starts 15 minutes late in the conference room.

4:16-4:25 p.m.: Do an icebreaker with people you’ve known for more than a year. Usually it’s something about movies or music or Gwyneth Paltrow.

4:27 p.m.: Meeting ends.

4:28-4:40 p.m.: Meet with your individual beat (Community Culture, Music, Film, TV, or Style). Ask your Community Culture writers how they’re doing, do they have any articles, are they still mad about The One Guy who didn’t call back. He’s not good enough for them.

4:40-5 p.m.: Check in on the book review.

5:01-5:02 p.m.: Try to remember who played Ronan in “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

5:03-5:30 p.m.: Edit your writers’ articles with a firm but loving pen. Eliminate all Oxford commas. Provide encouragement. And hugs. Nothing’s tougher than edits from a fellow student. Try to know what you’re talking about.

5:30-6 p.m.: Upload articles to the website. Hyperlink correctly. Achieve fulfillment.

6-6:45 p.m.: Eat with your fellow nightside editors, probably at Noodles or Chipotle or Five Guys if it hadn’t closed down! Gah!

6:46 p.m.: Return to the Daily.

6:47-7 p.m.: Procrastinate: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, ESPN, Facebook, Twitter, Instagra — LEE PACE! LEE PACE PLAYED RONAN!

7:01 p.m.: Get to work. Copy edit every article going out that night. Check for punctuation, grammar, style, headlines, accuracy, repeated words, capitalization, references, plagiarism, and secret recipes. Meticulously comb through endless lines of text to improve the paper’s integrity, its reputation, increase its readership. Look out for your writers. Collaborate on changes. Offer headline suggestions. Organize your own beat’s articles. Ask questions.

7:03 p.m.: Rest.


8:30 p.m.: Gather your things (jacket, backpack, empty Coke bottles) and say, “goodbye.”

8:45 p.m.: Actually leave because you can’t stop talking about whatever’s showing at the State that week (“Space Jam”?). Promise you’ll text everyone later.

9 p.m.: Arrive home. Post jokes to your editors’ Facebooks. Wait for likes.

10 p.m.: Start your “real” homework.

10:10 p.m.: Log onto Reread your last article. Nice job, Alex. Lose track of time.

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