Take a close look at this page. The words you’re reading were written by a writer and revised by editors. Photographers shot the photos you see. A designer arranged them on the page. A lot goes into producing a magazine. Join us for a behind-the-scenes look at how TFK is made each week.
Welcome to TFK’s morning meeting at our office in New York City. We gather daily to talk about what needs to be done. Writers bring story ideas to the meetings. We talk about their ideas. We pick the ones we think are the most interesting and important for kids your age. The TFK staff works on several issues at once. We try to work on longer articles weeks in advance. But news stories can be written in just a day or two. Working under a tight deadline takes teamwork and communication.
Pictures are an important part of a magazine. They help tell the story. Writers, editors, and designers meet to select photos. Here, TFK editorial director Andrea Delbanco and creative director Drew Willis look at photos for a story about moon exploration.
How do we decide which images to use? “We want to be sure the subject of the story is clear in the photos, and not confusing,” says TFK designer Stephen Blue. “And we want to make sure that the picture has enough pixels.” If there aren’t enough pixels, an image will look fuzzy.
Reporting and Writing
The writing process begins with research and reporting. Writers read about their topic. They also interview experts. They record these interviews and take notes. In this photo, TFK’s Rebecca Katzman meets with Jeffrey Kluger, of TIME. Kluger wrote about moon exploration for TIME. Katzman adapted his story for TFK.
Finally, the writer drafts her story. He or she decides how to organize it, and picks which quotes to include. An editor then reads the story, making changes and suggesting improvements.
Designing the Page
A designer begins making the story layout. He or she moves photographs and text around on a page. “I like to get kids excited about a story before they’ve read a word about it,” says Willis. He uses one computer program to crop and edit photos. He uses another to move the elements around.
Designers use what is called “dummy text” as a placeholder. It helps the designers know where to put the photos. It also shows writers how much space they have to tell their story.
Writing, editing, and copyediting are three different processes. An editor is the first person to look at a story. He or she looks closely with the writer. A copy editor is the last person to review a story. Mike DeCapite (pictured) is one of TFK’s copy editors. He reads through every page of the magazine. He corrects mistakes and rewrites awkward sentences. “No matter how many people have looked at something, it can always use another look,” DeCapite says. “Believe me, I miss lots of things the first time myself.”
The Final Check
TFK’s production team adjusts and color-corrects photos. Page proofs are then examined on a light table. The production staff goes over each page. They make sure everything looks right. Finally, when all is checked and ready, the story is sent off to TFK’s printing plant, in Wisconsin. There, millions of copies of the magazine are printed and bound together. The magazines are shipped to schools all across the country—ready to be read by you and your classmates.