Making a newspaper during a pandemic | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

Making a newspaper during a pandemic

MILWAUKEE — This month’s print edition of the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle was produced with both safety and responsibility in mind.

“We have a duty. We have a responsibility to operate,” said Tony Smithson, Regional Director of Printing Operations for APG Printing Solutions, which prints the Chronicle in Janesville.

APG Printing Solutions is in the niche business of producing community newspapers. The company publishes a handful of daily newspapers, including the Janesville Gazette and the Beloit Daily News. It also publishes many smaller niche newspapers, like the Pakistan News for Chicago, an Indian newspaper and several Spanish-language newspapers.

“There’s still a segment of the population that relies on a printed product for their news and information,” said Smithson.

Also, print has a democratizing effect, he said. You don’t need an internet connection or a device to access a print product, at a time when libraries are closed.

“People can be incredibly isolated,” he said. “It’s an obligation.”

APG Printing Solutions has modified paid leave policies and is taking safety precautions, sanitizing keyboards, buttons, handles and anything else workers come into contact with. It’s an industry where people don’t tend to congregate closely anyway, so that helps.

In the lunchroom, the rule is one person per table and Smithson is not afraid to ask employees to please “spread apart.”

“I told my employees we’ll get through this together,” he said. As for Chronicle staff, much of the work for this edition has been done from home. Some work for this edition was completed well before officials started urging people to stay at home. But since the pandemic first started to wash into Wisconsin, Milwaukee Jewish Federation employees, including those who work on the Chronicle, have been taking safety seriously.

These words are being typed from home, they’ll be edited from another home and then laid out on a page by a graphic designer who is working from home.

“We need to take care of the health and safety of our employees so they can continue to be responsive to our community and can do the vital work that Federation does at these times, convene, fundraise and support the work of our agencies as we all respond to changing needs,” said Miryam Rosenzweig, president and CEO of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation. “We did a lot of advance planning to make sure that we can continue operating at full capacity even though we are working out of our homes.”