RAFT’s annual Progress Report, which specifically highlights all of our scientific progress for the past year, has been completed and is being mailed out in the next few weeks.
Without patting ourselves too hard on the back, we think it’s be best one yet.
“The progress report is a different kettle of fish from Highlights which comes out in December,” says Velo Mitrovich, RAFT’s writer and designer. “While a portion of Highlights is about what our wonderful volunteers and donors have accomplished for RAFT, the Progress Report is strictly focused on our science teams.”
Working closely with Velo in getting all of RAFT’s publications finished in a timely manner is Amanda Bailey.“It’s a good working relationship because while we’re quite different in our approaches to projects, we both want exactly the same outcome – the absolute best report that we can do,” says Velo. “People think we’re kidding when the day after a publication comes out we start worrying about the next issue. We’re not.”
With both Highlights and the Progress Report, Amanda and Velo sit down months ahead of the deadline to start planning what is going to go inside.
“Our aim is to show exactly what we are doing at RAFT so people will realise just how important their donations are to us,” says Amanda. “We have open house days at RAFT so people can come in and see our work first-hand. For the majority of our donors, however, a visit to RAFT isn’t possible so this is the next best thing.”
Once Velo interviews subjects and writes up the first draft of stories, they get sent back to the project team leader for a factual fact. Often times this can go back and forth about as frequent as a volley at Wimbledon.
“The last thing I would ever want to be accused of doing would be to ‘dumb-down’ an article, but on-the-other-hand, sometimes our scientists don’t seem to understand that most of us don’t spend our lives in a laboratory,” says Velo. “You need to reach that happy medium with science writing.”
Once the story is finished then the design process begins. Photos need to be taken and any graphs figured out. Almost always there is too much material for the pages so cuts need to be made; which at times means sending the story back to the scientist in question to make sure nothing vital has been chopped.
After Amanda has proofed the stories, she gives them to other staff so additional eyes can go over the text. “At times, because Velo and I have seen the text so often, our eyes glaze over mistakes,” says Amanda. “Then when someone points out the obvious – like a misspelled headline – Velo and I feel like hitting ourselves on the head for missing it.”
Despite Velo having been in the UK for over 14 years, American English spellings or expressions can still creep in. “Last year Velo was doing an article on the fundraising team and with him being a big Tour de France fan he wanted to compare us to a finely tuned bicycle - which in the States would be fine,” says Amanda. “I had to explain to him that here comparing a woman to a bicycle is not exactly a compliment. In fact, I think I’m still mad at him for that!”