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Extra! Read all about the Golden Gate [X]press

May 6, 2005

This article is the latest installment in a series that takes readers behind the scenes of student publications, programs, productions and lab experiences.

Photo of Copy Chief Daniel Jimenez (right) discussing a story with Staff Writer Ian AtkinsonThe staff of the Golden Gate [X]press, SFSU's student newspaper, has a passion for digging up and reporting the news. While in the newsroom, they frequently browse Web sites for the latest news, hoping to be the first to inform their colleagues.

"To be a journalism student, you have to be a gossip," Staff Writer Elizabeth Boyarsky says. "You have to be someone who always knows what's going on, who is always on the cusp of a news story."

[X]press staff members work up to 50 hours per week, paying for their own film, processing and cell phone bills. The latter reached $375 for Managing Editor Misha Rosiak one month at the beginning of the semester.

Nonetheless, Rosiak and her colleagues say the benefits outweigh the costs, as they carry out the paper's mission, gain valuable experience and forge close friendships. Former staff members on the publication, formerly known as the Golden Gater and founded in 1931, have gone on to distinguished journalism careers across the country, from the San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times to Newsweek and the Washington Post.

Sarah Hemus, who as [X]press editor in chief is in charge of the newspaper, Web site and monthly magazine, oversees a staff of nearly 100. She is grateful to have a solid, dedicated team this semester, pitching in to help one another and, once the paper is completed, getting together for drinks at a West Portal watering hole or a bonfire at Ocean Beach.

"It's easier to not get stressed when it's a relaxed atmosphere," she says.

Getting the paper out, however, requires much effort and attention to detail. Aside from breaking news, the [X]press operates on a two-week cycle that begins Mondays, when beat reporters must pitch three story ideas to their editors. The editors then decide which stories to pursue for the following week's issue, including a topic for an editorial. Reporters file their stories by 9 p.m. Thursdays, and then the editing process begins.

This semester the editors have made an effort to cover the lives of nontraditional college students, including those who are senior citizens, parents and international students.

"Our goals include opening dialogue and reporting the truth," Rosiak says. "We report stories applicable to a community on campus and make stories relevant to the campus."

The staff is forced to adjust its priorities when something newsworthy happens spontaneously. A compelling photo or breaking news story will go live on the [X]press Web site the same day of the event. At times, editors have scrapped their plans for the front page of the newspaper to accommodate images and articles on breaking news, moving planned images and stories to later pages.

Even though the newspaper is published only on Thursdays, there is still a great deal of deadline pressure. Before being delivered to the printer by 5 p.m. Wednesday, the paper must be edited thoroughly and laid out into a column format, and all the pages must be pasted onto cardboard.

"It's an adrenaline rush, the constant pressure and excitement," says Cera Renalt, a photo editor.

Reporters and editors race to meet deadlines. With a red pen in his left ear and a blue pen in his right, Copy Chief Daniel Jimenez is still scrutinizing every word and pica at the 11th hour.

Several graphic designers lay out the paper -- placing stories, headlines, graphics and photos on the pages using Adobe InDesign -- and must give it an appealing look. Lead Designer Joshua Espinosa said he spends so much time on layout that InDesign often pops up in his dreams.

They work until 10 p.m. Tuesdays, though some say they would stay later if the Humanities building did not close at that time.

Journalism majors are required to complete two semesters on the [X]press, also known as JOUR 609. Students earn three units, with editors able to earn an additional three. Before enrolling, students must complete several prerequisite courses in the Journalism Department.

-- Matt Itelson
Photos: Cera Renault


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Last modified May 6, 2005 by University Communications