"We're the manufacturer as well as the quality control," says Betsy Castillo, 36, who became edit production manager last November, when her predecessor, Kathy O'Shaughnessy, was promoted to operations manager at LIFE. Among Castillo's responsibilities: setting and enforcing production deadlines, monitoring and changing picture quality, size, color and tone, as well as the alignment of images and text and making the entire magazine computer-ready for satellite transmission to our nine printing plants around the country. "Betsy is knowledgeable, competent and unflappable," says corporate production director Michael Clayton, who oversees the department. "Her attitude is always, We can get it done."
For Castillo and her staff of eight, getting the magazine to the presses requires more than a passing understanding of everyone else's job. "We have to translate the vocabulary of every department," says edit production coordinator Alison Cook. That process takes both patience and nerves. "The rush comes on deadline, when the printers start printing 225,000 copies an hour," says coordinator Linda Hattendorf, "and those pages had better look right."
Thanks to the production department's rigid standards, they do. "The thing I most admire," says managing editor Landon Y. Jones, "is production's command of many commodities and their ability to communicate to ink-stained scribes. They make sure the magazine is produced with the highest standards of physical quality in the business. They do miracles, as well as maintain week-to-week quality."