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Award-winning production department tackles a full range of diverse projects

Design - The award-winning production team includes, from left: Alicia Roza, Jacqueline Furfaro, Helen Michel, Steffi Kern and Steve Gilholm. The department works on designing ads and community projects.  Photo by Olivia Rutt

Award-winning production department tackles a full range of diverse projects

by Olivia Rutt

FERGUS - The Wellington Advertiser’s production department is responsible for many of the visual aspects of the newspaper.

The five-person team of trained graphic designers works on ads as small as a classified up to a full-page or centre spread.

Production manager Helen Michel, who started with the Advertiser 11 years ago, said an ad can start from an idea or a rough draft from a customer.

“It can get pretty elaborate; it all depends on whether it’s running in colour or black and white. Size definitely gives you a lot more options on how to dress an ad,” she said.

On average, 400 ads are in the paper each week, with about 225 classifieds. Most are done in house, meaning one of the production staff members helped design the ad.

“I think the fact that we have a really good team of strong designers with varied backgrounds helps us to give a high quality product to customers,” said Michel.

Having an in-house team is an important aspect in helping the Wellington Advertiser stand out as a community newspaper.

“It’s a free publication and the only reason it can be free is because of the ads that are supporting it ... and our inserts, flyers,” Michel  said.

“We believe in giving people value for their money and that’s why we pride ourselves on putting together good-looking ads. It’s a visual draw.”

Michel said getting repeat business is gratifying “because you know people are happy.”

While some newspapers have gone to a centralized facility for ad design, publisher Dave Adsett sees the value in maintaining a local crew.

“That’s sort of how the industry’s gone and it’s just my preference that we provide local jobs in the local community,” he said.

The production team has won several awards from the Ontario Community Newspapers Association.

Its Better Newspaper Awards are given out annually to the top three newspapers in the province in various categories.

“We’ve been really fortunate that every year we’ve entered, we have been up for awards,” said Michel.

The Advertiser’s production team has received the following awards:

- first place for local retail layout and second place for use of process colour in 2014;

- third place for local retail layout, original ad and use of process colour, 2015; and

- first place for in-house promotion and local retail layout, and second place for  best creative ad, 2016.

The production, sales and editorial departments shared a third placed finish in 2014 for special section over 10,000 and a second place finish in the prestigious general excellence category in 2016.

The production department is also nominated for five awards for 2017, (including another group award for special section) which will be awarded at the OCNA gala on April 20.

“It’s satisfying to win for an ad that you’ve put a lot of thought and effort into,” said graphic designer Alicia Roza.

“I think any award is a validation ... that you’re doing quality work,” added Michel. “It’s very gratifying and the fact that we have a good track record is even better.”

In the early days of the newspaper, ads were designed by hand, through a phototypesetting machine and cut-and-paste methods.

The machine would print out strips of text in different sizes for the ad. The paper would be run through a waxer then cut up and pasted onto a layout board. News text would be added later.

“In the early days, things were pretty much streamlined,” said Adsett.

“You would have one or two production people, but they did both news and ads.”

Early ads would typically be text and line art.

“It wasn’t until early- to mid-90s that we really started doing colour, and that’s just increased exponentially since then,” said Adsett.

His sister Marie headed the production department for a number of years and during that time the Advertiser moved into its current building on Gartshore Street.

When Michel began over a decade ago at the Advertiser, the newspaper was using computers and QuarkXPress.

The Advertiser moved over to the Adobe Creative Suite around 2010.

Now, the team not only works on ads for each week’s paper, but also special community projects.

“I think we have a pretty impressive team that way, and I don’t think that people really know how little time we have to do what we do,” said Michel.

The designers said they enjoy the projects they work on.

“My favourite part about working in production is the people I work with and the creative freedom that we have with the majority of the ads,” said designer Jacqueline Furfaro.

Designer Steve Gilholm said he enjoys being a part of something bigger, and something the community respects.

“I like the diversity of all the projects we have,” added designer Steffi Kern.

Michel said there’s never a dull moment in the production department.

Some of the community projects the team works on include the OPP annual report, community guides, fair books, Wellington Weddings, Business Leader and more.

“We are rocking … the pace can be pretty extreme,” said Michel.



April 13, 2018


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