You can probably open their file, delete and the changeable content, then save as a template. It will still have all of the master pages and styles the original used. Then open the template and make your issue.
Hi Peter! Thank you for answering!
Is there a quick way to delete all of the cchangeable content? - the file I'm starting with is huge... It looks like they just kept building new issues off of the same file - a bunch of different images, text on many different layers - within folders in the layers.
I apologize for the simpliistic question, or incorrect terminologies - I've been working in Photoshop for years - have only been using InDesign for a few weeks...
You can probably delete all but the front page, and perhaps one inside spread (depending on how the master pages are set up). I personally would set up a newspaper using a single page master for the front page, and a two page master for a the basic inside pages, possibly some additional masters for alternate column arrangements if there are any in use, and so forth. Masters should have the page headers and other "static" content (you might, for example, have masters for section pages like Metro, Editorial, Sports, and so on so you don't have to set all of that stuff up each time), but that doesn't really mean much. The way I work and the way others do things can vary widely. I worked for a newspaper once that used the same file week after week, dleting the stories and ads that weren't going to run, then adding the new content. In my opinion that's a workflow that always ends in disaster with the edition melting down at deadline, but it's pretty common.
One of the best things you could do for yourself is invest in some training. If you like online training, Lynda.com is probably the the best you'll find for ID. Sandee Cohen's Visual Quickstart book is about the best you'll find for a beginner written text. Real World InDesign by David Blatner et al is the best advanced book I've seen (and I 've looked at a lot of texts -- I taught ID at the college level for a bit).