A daily newspaper manufactures a different product 365 days a year. Nearly all other industries try to perfect an item and make sure it meets the same exact standard each time.

But daily, we deal with many variables: a different number of pages or sections, varying configurations of advertisements and news content that can range wildly depending on entirely unpredictable events.

Being the best planner in the world won't help you much in this business. Instead, you need to almost constantly redirect efforts and change focus. As a general rule, the news business attracts people who are not dogmatic or rigid in their views, which is probably why you'll find an excess of liberals.

In recent years, technology has added another dimension of unpredictability. On good days, computers in the newsroom and pressroom speed the process and are highly efficient. On bad days, they might present the opportunity for mistakes as seen this past week.

On the front page for three days in a row, the same photograph from a Valdosta State University basketball game ran in the left-hand column called "Inside." It should have been there only once, the first time. But the mechanics of the computerized makeup of the pages picked up the same photo three times because one keystroke had not been made. Even more confusing is that the proofs of Thursday's and Friday's pages had the right photos -- one the cover of our weekly Preview section and the other of two women in Iraq.

The mistakes should have been caught when the press runs were checked, but somehow they were missed. I expect we'll figure out ways to avoid this problem from happening again.

The upside of the daily newspaper business is that we have an opportunity to get it right the very next day.

Jeanne Dariotis' message last week to members of the Azalea City Kiwanis Club was simple: Donate blood, do it as often as you can and wherever you can.

As director of the Southeastern Community Blood Center, based in Tallahassee, she urges participation in blood drives by her organization or the American Red Cross.

Readers might not realize that South Georgia Medical Center receives one-third of its blood supply from SCBC, and that all blood donated through the organization stays in the 25-county region served by SCBC.

Lowndes County residents may want to do more to contribute to that supply. While 1,779 units of blood were sold to the local hospital during a recent time period, only 168 units were donated in Lowndes.

Two upcoming SCBC blood drives in the area: from noon to 5 p.m. Thursday at SGMC, and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 11 at Valdosta Technical College.

Starting today and continuing every Sunday in the Living section, we offer a new feature for the cooks in your families.

Sandra Connell, who has written for us as a free-lancer for many years, is providing readers with recipes and a list of ingredients for some easy-to-prepare meals.

Readers can take this list to the grocery store today and every Sunday, come home and prepare a whole week's worth of main entrees for dinner.

We hope you enjoy them.

Ron Wayne is the editor of The Valdosta Daily Times. He can be reached by calling 244-3400, ext. 229, or e-mailed at ron.wayne@gaflnews.com.

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