Today we crossed the threshold into the inner sanctum and the holiest of holy sites of Wake Forest journalism. The kind folks at the Wake Weekly were brave/stupid enough to let us in the door and watch them at work. We tried to learn something, but it was hopeless.
Seriously, a huge and massive tip of every hat we own to the Wake Weekly for being so super cool and ridiculously gracious to let us in the door to do that thing we do. Whatever that is.
It was fascinating to watch the staff being on the other side of the reporting for once. While they may have been nervous about what we would write, we were equally nervous because they have people there called proofreaders. Its, it’s, got it. The pressure is on for both of us.
The Wake Weekly can best be described as the quintessential hometown and community newspaper. They’ve been in Wake Forest since 1947 cranking out the news. It would be irresponsible to not label them as the best news source in town. Especially if your kid plays any sports, they’ve got that covered like a boss.
Wake Weekly has been around so long they have awards littering shelves everywhere. Want to know how long? Checkout the photo from their award room below. Looks like they won the “really old paper that can’t get around” wheelchair award as well. In fact that shelf on the left looks positively strained under the weight of the awards.
We make no bones about trying to the the fifth best paper in a three paper town. So much less pressure that way. But they are sitting on the top of the peak with only every reader to criticize them and point out their typos. Oh joy to be the Wake Weekly.
With their time around town they’ve made decades of great connections and frenemies and know how to land the news that matters most to all of us Wake Forest Nutters. Of course sometimes that means who died, who was born, who has out of town guests, and who had ham salad for lunch.
Gordon Coleman, a graphic designer at the newspaper sums up the emotional flexibility of most there with his brilliantly attuned attitude. The dude can go from “How you doin'” to “Sup” in less than a second. Word to your editor.
And speaking of editor, here is something you might not know, the editor of the Wake Weekly is sleeping around with the publisher. They’ve even manufactured some staff members together.
Clellie Allen (editor) and Todd Allen (publisher) are married with five kids. How they ever found time to do that and be in the newspaper business is a mystery to us. God works in mysterious ways, doesn’t she?But the family affair doesn’t end there. Bob Allen, Todd’s pops, and his beloved wife Peggy worked together at the paper for 44 years. In fact at 84, Bob still hangs out there and writes as publisher emeritus.
We would have taken a picture of the real Bob Allen but frankly we were just that intimidated by his furrowed brow.
In lieu of taking his picture, which was a horrible oversight on our part, we are using this substitute picture of fake Bob Allen to represent Bob.
Bob and Peggy were named Wake Forest’s Citizens of the year in 1972 and Peggy taught Sunday School for 30 years. You can’t get more “in the community” than that.
While Peggy is missed around the paper, her legacy lives on in both Bob and Al Merritt. Al has worked for the paper for 58 years. Yes, you read that right, nearly six decades. The man apparently hates to send out resumes.
Al’s been at the paper and lived in Wake Forest so long he’s been responsible for printing stories about the birth of the transistor radio, man landing on the moon, the 1970s energy crisis, stupid stuff people did in the 1980s, and still today Al is responsible for getting the paper printed and out the door.
He’s gone from a cold little building where he physically printed the paper himself to the modern setup they have today using Mac computers and digitally publish the paper. Imagine, he went from carrying printing plates to pressing a button. You’ve got to love technology, or not. Whatever Al says, goes with us.
And speaking about digitally publishing the paper, the modern Wake Weekly is very cutting edge. Steve King, Lewis Chapman and Sharon Rasmussen took a few moments to explain to us how the paper is formatted and made ready for production.
But Steve seems to be a positive force to be dealt with there in the graphics department.
A paper without writers and photographers would be pointless. David Leone, associate editor and man with a camera, is a work horse of the local media. He is damn near everywhere and covering everything.
He’s like a journalist Superman, able to cover boring meetings in a single bound. He’s got us beat on that. We have to admit, if there is a boring meeting coming up and David is going, we don’t bother going. We just wait for his Tweets, they are so entertaining. If you don’t follow @WakeWeekly on Twitter, you should.
Sitting in with David in the David office is David Allen. David is the son of the editor and publisher and has made quite a name for himself as both a photographer and dumpling connoisseur. Both traits we desperately admire.
Stumbling downstairs you’ll find the other side of this operation which includes advertising and administration. Shelia Cattaruzza is a friendly face and responsible for things administrative. She’s also listed as the subscription specialist but we are not quite sure what that means. You either have a subscription or you are dead to Shellia.
We wonder if Shelia Cattaruzza eats lunch at Cannizzaro’s Pizzeria down the street. Seems like a match made in heaven.
And then there was the dimly lit office that was full of energy, the sales office. We had to sit down to take it all in. Kathleen Jackson is the advertising and marketing specialist and we also met the lovely Anna Bolton. We weren’t in there but three minutes till we were hit with the assumptive close. “You want a half page or full page ad?” You go girl! A-B-C, Always be closing.
The ad office helps to keep the Wake Weekly humming along. After all, nobody makes money till something gets sold. That’s the true universal language of business and modern journalism.
The Wake Weekly is a family affair for sure. Not only is there the Allen family but also the newspaper family. We realize they were on their best behavior while we were there but you just got the feeling someone there would get yelled at like a brother for leaving the seat up.
And it sure appears to be a fun place to work. It’s both a blessing and a sickness to be so in love and addicted to what you do.
But at the end of the day we think this picture best sums up the attitude and feeling at the Wake Weekly. You just feel like they want to hug you.