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General Excellence
Andrea Mathewson
Production Director
Akron Beacon Journal

Andrea Mathewson sees the big picture. She says it comes from being from a big family. She learned to appreciate the steps involved in a mammoth undertaking from her mother. “I have six brothers and one sister, so all I had to do was watch my mom getting dinner on the table,” she said with a laugh.

At the Beacon Journal, Mathewson has a lot on her own plate since becoming head of the production department in 2002. In that time, the newspaper changed ink vendors, converted to a lighter-weight newsprint and added a second inserter operation. Yet her department’s operations remained at the top of the game. In 2004, the Beacon Journal won two first-place awards for print quality, and earlier this year reached 24 months without any post-press downtime.

“I tell my staff to always consider how a decision will affect the previous and next chains in the line,” she said. “Communication is key, but it’s not just telling what is going to happen, it’s telling why it’s going to happen: Why are we moving in this direction, and why is the company doing this.”

Because of this big-picture thinking, Mathewson is sought after for projects that require coordination between departments. She’s currently in charge of implementing sub-ZIP zoning, a valuable enhancement for advertisers, but one that requires new procedures in production and circulation as well.

To ensure good results, Mathewson is in constant communication with her employees as well as other departments. Each day, her staff gathers to discuss the events of the previous night: “how things went, and if we got off track, how to fix it.” Once a week, the operations staff meets with the next “chain in the line” – their counterparts in circulation – “so we can get our marching orders together for the next week: Do they have any special needs for us to pay attention to? Do we have a heavy press run, or targeted delivery items?”

Twenty-eight years at the paper, first in advertising, then as secretary to the labor relations director, then to production, have been a great asset, she says.

But that’s not the only experience that counts, she added. “The dedicated people on the front lines of the Beacon Journal are a great asset to me and the newspaper,” she said. “Everybody has their role, does their job and everything clicks all the way through. You don’t see that very often.”

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