How do you put Spore together?
MetadataShow full item record
CTA. 2002. How do you put Spore together?. Spore 102. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/47800
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore102.pdf
We continue the interview between CTA staff and Spore, started in Spore 101, and explain, in response to many readers' queries, how Spore is produced. It's a tight and complex process, exercising intellects and logistics. In its evolution over the...
We continue the interview between CTA staff and Spore, started in Spore 101, and explain, in response to many readers queries, how Spore is produced. It s a tight and complex process, exercising intellects and logistics. In its evolution over the past 17 years, it has not always been easy as in 2002 to keep it up, for which our apologies. Here s how it works when it works well. It s a long road from the idea for an article to the time the magazine reaches the reader. Spore is the flagship publication of CTA, and its daily management is in the hands of the Information Products and Services Department (IPSD). The IPSD engages an external agency to do the bulk of the work in originating and writing articles, and designing and producing the print and electronic versions. Currently, that agency is the Spore consortium, formed by the Médiateurs group based near Amsterdam in The Netherlands, and Louma productions in Aniane, near Montpellier in southern France. Médiateurs provides the editorial services, and runs a network of 24 correspondents in all six ACP regions and beyond. Louma looks after all the design aspects, including the popular photographs and illustrations, and the production. The sister edition of Esporo is produced by the Edições group in Lisbon, Portugal they take most of their material from Spore, and add sections of special interest to Portuguese readers, in the same way as the French and English Spore editions have different articles about publications or some training courses. Planning Each October, CTA s Spore team (composed of IPSD staff) meets with the consortium team and Esporo s representative to decide on the major topics ( long articles ) for the coming year s six issues. Very occasionally, these change during the year. Then, every 2 months, about 90 days before an issue is due to appear (what we call D Day minus 90, the D for delivery ), they all meet to plan that issue in detail, section by section, article by article. There is input from all CTA departments from IPSD, the consortium and Esporo with a growing volume of proposals from correspondents and readers. The outlines of long articles are discussed as in a high-level seminar; sometimes a suggestion for a short article will be promoted to a longer article. The air is thick with dozens of suggested articles, and the room full of champions of so many ideas. Books, videos and CD-ROMS are examined and weighed up, and accepted or rejected for a review. In the following weeks, the consortium writes and edits the articles. The only pieces we hardly touch are readers letters, which speak for themselves. CTA then approves the copy, adding its own editing touches and suggestions for improvements. Sometimes, an article turns out to be less interesting than expected, and a replacement is found; there are always one or two articles in reserve. All this is done in accordance with a stout document called the Spore Content and Style Guide, the team s own rule book about, as the song says, what to leave in and what to leave out. Such as how much, or how little, coverage there should be of CTA events, how often an ACP region has to be written about, checking stories, spelling rules, type of language to be used, how much should be originated in French, or in English, how many words in a headline you name it. The quality of writing is also defined, based in part on readers levels of reading, and with the requirement of having the same quality as, for example, The Economist and Le Monde. One of the greatest and few critics of Spore s accessible style once spluttered that 'This article could have been in Newsweek magazine', which we took as a great compliment. Another, more cautiously, warned us that our open style is not the right approach for writing for policy-makers, who need their information to be opaque. He had a point, but we decided to keep it open. The Uses of Spore Survey has shown that most readers are satisfied with the style, and we always welcome informed comments for improvement. All leading magazines publish their style guides, and Spore s will be published soon. From words to messages, with graphics After approval, about 40 days before D day, texts are translated and then comes a period of metamorphosis. Photographs and illustrations are selected, and the words on a typed page are converted into a properly laid-out article in Louma s design studios. First one language edition is completed, and the other follows. Designs, like the photos and texts and draft articles before them, are shared between team members by email. Then CTA approves the design, more usually with a 'Wow!' than a whimper, and it is rushed to an impatient printer in Montpellier. While printing is going on, a new phase of work opens up: the design is delivered to the CTA Website, the email Ennouncement goes to subscribers; the new package of Spore and more starts broadcast on our WorldSpace satellite channel; and the Spore indexers add the edition to the Spore index, scheduled to go public as from mid-2003. The final design is also sent to Lisbon to complete work on Esporo, for distribution a few weeks later. About 10 days later, D Day, pallets stacked high with more than 40,000 copies of Spore are collected from the printers and taken to the distributors in The Netherlands. A few days later, they are on their way by mail to subscribers in 126 countries. Does anyone have time to put their feet up on D day + 1? Not really. The next issue has already been written, its photos are being selected; correspondents are already researching stories for the issue after that, and trying to tie down two more evasive Viewpoint articles; memos or chitchat fly around on whether the headlines in the last issue were too obtuse or too direct; the consortium updates its score-book on how well are we doing ; an anxious subscriber is chasing an errant back number; another 800 subscription applications have been received; and the mailbag of Mailbox is bursting with new ideas from readers. And as for the uses to which the information is put, well, that s what really counts.