** ... Continued from previous post.
The launch of a project without an immediate precedent -- in this case, an experimental newspaper with a six-week life-span -- is never smooth. The team had to establish a working schedule that could form around our already-busy lives. We had to communicate to our collaborators what we wanted but didn't have a model to show them yet. And we had to settle on a printer.
From a year of service leading the campus paper at Berkeley (props to anyone who does it; the Daily Cal is a 15,000-circ., city-serving, five-days-a-week, totally independent operation), I knew we had to establish a solid working relationship with the imprenta Homero found and eventually hired.
One evening early on, we went to visit and personally introduce ourselves at Litografía HEVA, near Tlatelolco. We arrived on a bad footing from the get-go.
The first issue was delayed by several days due to a serious printing error in the first-run of the first issue. We couldn't introduce Estrella Cercana to our readers with huge black marks over some of the images, as the first-run turned out, and we had to convince Señor Felipe, our man at HEVA, that the printer needed to make a second-run for us. For free.
Don Felipe was cool. Chilango to the core, but cool. About fifteen years ago, he told us, he lost half of his left-hand index finger in an accident on a large cutting machine in the workshop. (See Don Felipe standing with that machine here, and his half-finger here.) We checked out machines and techniques that now only exist in analog-era journalists' nostalgic memories: off-set, movable types, plates, inks!, etc.
During the visit, Don Felipe made a weird and slightly offensive comment that ended becoming something of a calling card for us, "Este periódico no es para familias ni para gente honesta." ("This newspaper isn't for families or for honest people.")
Our work schedule also proved challenging. Everyone on board was good for the project because we're the sort of people who are constantly juggling several projects at once. (I work as a news assistant in the Mexico City bureau of the L.A. Times, contributing regularly to the World Now blog.) We decided we would work whenever possible at the Kurimanzutto space, an environment which I ended up developing a strong admiration for, it's so well-done, or at our home offices.
Yet over the six hectic and crazied weeks, the design and editorial team never quite pinned down a reliable schedule. We worked together a few nights a week whenever we could, and rushed through galley edits at the last minute in order to meet our weekly Thursday (... or Friday...) printing deadline.
This kind of pace meant we had limited time to engage with collaborators. We needed pieces to come in clean and sharp, as ready for publication as possible. A couple things we commissioned, especially for the most "relevant" and up-to-date news reports we carried (Beyonce's baby-bump, for example, or Justin Bieber's visit to DF).
We also, you might've noticed, permitted writers to submit pieces under psuedonyms, making for a lot of unusual fun fun fun.
** Part 4, next.
(* Photo above, inside Litografía HEVA, by @demomilton.)