After more than 40 years in the newspaper industry, Lana Leighton, production manager/sales assistant for the Star Journal and Hodag Buyers’ Guide is retiring…almost. She’ll continue to work at the paper a few days a week. Her introduction to the industry began when she was hired, due to her typing ability, to key in editorial copy for a local newspaper company one year after graduating high school. Looking back at her initial start, Lana admitted, “I knew nothing about journalism or the newspaper industry when I started, but I caught on quickly and learned a great deal about the production process along the way.”
Although eager to have more leisure time, Lana said there are many fond memories and experiences she’ll leave behind, specifically the areas of graphic design and advertisement development. She enjoyed having creative control over the design process for ads and editorial content. Lana recently worked on a team that designed the new logo for Silent Sports, a regional outdoor sports magazine also published by the company.
Throughout her time in the industry, Lana witnessed many transitions and trends. One of the most noticeable changes she has experienced is in the actual production phase. “The original production process was a cut-and- paste method. In order to create pages, we used photo typesetters to print out text and prices for advertisements, pasting each piece in place using hot wax. Advertising graphics were cut from art service books and also pasted into the ads. The articles and classified ads were printed out in galleys and trimmed and pasted on to the pages, along with the finished ads to create the paper before it went to the pre-press darkroom,” she said. “It was a piece-by-piece assembly; however, there were more than a dozen people working in the production department alone, so the actual procedure itself didn’t take as long as you might think to complete.” Today the design and layout process is completed digitally and transferred to the printer via the internet.
The progression of the company has also been something Lana has observed. When she began, the papers, known then as Our Town and the Hodag Shopper, were privately owned by Rhinelander residents Don and Dolly Harris. The company was purchased by Journal Communications in 1988 and late last year was acquired by Brown County Publishing/Multi Media Channels, LLC, a Wisconsin-based, family-owned corporation.
Her contributions to the company throughout the years have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated. “Lana’s been an amazing asset to our papers for such a long time, she mastered every piece of new technology as it came along, always designed great ads and is just a pleasure to work with,” said Pete Daniels, publisher of the Star Journal. “We’ll miss seeing her every day, but she certainly deserves to enjoy time away after all those years of hard work.”
Lana’s dedication was valued by customers and coworkers alike, which created an enjoyable atmosphere in an ever-changing industry.
“I was first hired at the Buyers’ Guide to work in the production department,” said Timi Eckes, Star Journal editor. “Lana was my supervisor. She has a great sense of humor, and is patient and easygoing. It was great to work in that department, because Lana made it fun.”
“Although the pressures of daily deadlines will not be missed, I will certainly miss my co-workers, all of the customers I have come to know over the years, and even the work itself,” Lana concluded. “I have always thought of the production part of the business to be similar to putting a big puzzle together. What’s more fun than that?”
Lana plans to spend her anticipated free time enjoying her home and digitally transferring her father’s slides and photographs into movies throughout the winter. She’s hoping the summer months will allow time to get back into camping and short trips to northern Wisconsin and the upper peninsula of Michigan.
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