July 2, 2010

The Tradition Continues

The Tradition Continues
Producing the daily General Conference Bulletins

By Stephen Chavez, managing editorIn the beginning was the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald—even before there was a Seventh-day Adventist Church. It was also the official record of all things Adventist.

StaffPhoto JDSclip

A CAST OF NOT QUITE THOUSANDS: Every five years the Adventist Review staff joins with designers, photographers, and copy editors from the Review and Herald Publishing Association and several volunteers to produce General Conference Bulletins that are distributed daily at the General Conference session. [Joel D. Springer/Adventist Review]

Today we have Adventist News Network, Hope Channel, GC Communications, and so forth. But even in the twitterverse and blogosphere of instant communication, Adventist Review is still the official record of the General Conference sessions (as it has been since the very first session back in 1863).

“The Lord has blessed us this year with a great team that is rising to the task of producing not only daily Bulletins for the Adventist Review but also copy for the international edition of Adventist World, which will literally be seen by millions of Adventists around the world,” says Bill Knott, editor and executive publisher of the Adventist Review and Adventist World publications. “We have the most international team we have ever assembled, with persons from backgrounds in the Caribbean and Africa and Asia all working together with production personnel from the Review and Herald Publishing Association to do what seems incredibly daunting: turn around in 24 hours a 32-page edition each day of the session [Bulletin 2 was 48 pages]. The fact that we have been able to do this is a testimony to the goodness of the Lord and the professionalism of the people I’m privileged to work with.”

At this fifty-ninth General Conference session the staff of the Adventist Review, along with copy editors, designers, and photographers employed by the Review and Herald Publishing Association, plus several volunteers, inhabited Room 207 of the Georgia World Congress Center for its quinquennial exercise known as producing the General Conference Bulletins.

Producing the daily Bulletins is essentially a 24-hour process, begun when editors and writers get their assignments after staff worship at 8:15 a.m. Then throughout the morning correspondents and photographers fan out and cover meetings, events, and proceedings in the Georgia Dome and beyond. The plan is to have copy and photographs back to the editorial office by 1:00 p.m. each day, so that material can be edited, copyedited, and designed in time to send the digital files electronically to the Review and Herald Publishing Association in Hagerstown, Maryland, by 5:00 p.m.

At the same time, edited digital files of the business sessions and committee reports are provided by General Conference Secretariat to the Adventist Review for publication. It is, after all, the official record of the General Conference session.

After all the digital files have been transmitted to Hagerstown electronically, our counterparts at the publishing house go to work transferring digital files into press plates that, combined with paper and ink, become the next day’s General Conference Bulletins.

When the print run is finished around midnight, 5,000 of the finished copies are packed into shipping boxes, taken to the Hagerstown Airport, and flown by private plane to the Fulton County Airport in suburban Atlanta for delivery to the Georgia Dome around 7:00 a.m.—almost exactly 24 hours after the process began. The rest of the print run is mailed to subscribers throughout North America and the world.

Production web

AIRPORT RENDEZVOUS: Melinda and Brian Worden (right) meet the plane in Atlanta and help off-load boxes of Adventist Review General Conference Bulletins headed for the Georgia Dome. The Office of Secretariat distributes the issues for the delegates, and the rest of the issues are sold at Adventist Review booths around the Georgia World Congress Center.

Of course, by that time the whole process for the next daily Bulletin is beginning again . . .

For this year’s session the news staff of Adventist Review worked closely with Adventist News Network to report on events that would appear for print, video, audio, and Internet distribution.

“It’s been wonderful working with the professional journalists of ANN,” said news editor Mark Kellner. “Together, our cooperative effort has made a formidable challenge manageable and fun.”

The results are seen in both Adventist Review and GC Communications Web sites (www.AdventistReview.org and www.news.adventist.org).

Knowing how our earliest Adventist pioneers relied on cutting-edge technologies to communicate the gospel message to their society, it isn’t hard to imagine that they would appreciate both the reach and the scope of Adventist Review and its goal of telling the world about the soon return of Jesus.