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Technology in the newsroom

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by cyclingwriter, Mar 29, 2010.

  1. cyclingwriter

    cyclingwriter Active Member

    Deford's piece in SI got me thinking about newsroom technology and how it has changed over the years. (For those, who didn't read it, he mentioned typing stories in the bathroom and then sending them Western Union back to SI)

    At my last stop before leaving the business earlier this year, we all had laptops and most had blackberries (though the people who had them paid for them themselves). Our laptops were all wired into the newsroom system so we could file and edit from anywhere. It was a far cry from my first real journalism job. We had no Internet, but we had those computers with the green screens that you could type stories and send primative inter office instant messages to each other. There was a PC in the library with Internet that was supposed to be used to do research, but since no one knew how to clear a web browser, it was always left on jobs' pages. And we had a box phone that was kept locked up in the ME's office just in case someone fell out of a boat at press time and we needed to call in a story. I don't think the phone ever left the side of the ME's desk, let alone anyone knew how to use it. Also, the AME was not supposed to, but often smoked at his desk on the weekends when the ME and EE weren't around. Also, since digital cameras were still in their infancy, none of the reporters ever took their own photos because we couldn't work the darkroom equipment.
     
  2. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    At my first three shops, we had cut and paste boards to put the pages on them. And we had pica poles and wheels as well.

    At one paper, we had one digital camera, that we only used for still photos because if there was any motion (like at a game), the photo came out blurry.

    E-mail was only just starting at one of my papers when I left. The next shop didn't have any e-mail my first year. My second year, one computer had it, and by the end, about half the computers were equipped with a dial-up Internet connection.

    Yep, it's amazing how much technology has changed things.
     
  3. txsportsscribe

    txsportsscribe Active Member

    this was at a community college paper but i can remember getting out first mac se computers - all three of them. before that we used ibm typewriters and then went to the printer to help with paste-up. and pica poles and proportion wheels were tools of the trade. i wonder if a college grad today even knows how to use a proportion wheel.
     
  4. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Until you've used a teleram, you've never been to the stone age...
     
  5. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member

    Saw the Teleram in action but never used one.

    Started with machines in which we changed fonts with strips of plastic with holes (codes) punched in them, then waxed and pasted up. Developed my own film, too.

    If the Teleram was the Stone Age, the near-indestructable Trash-80 wasn't far removed.

    I wanted to toss my 80 out of a pressbox several times but figured it would kill anyone it hit, have my fingerprints and the next guy to use it would say, "Wasn't this the TRS-80 that Sixtoe went to prison for?"

    And couplers. Fucking couplers. One bump, someone hits the phone line, a bad connection and you start over or have to dictate.

    Pica poles, sizing wheels, Xacto knives ... tools of the trade. Pica poles make a great jimmy for locked car doors, too.
     
  6. expendable

    expendable Well-Known Member

    What's this technology thing you're speaking of?
     
  7. murphyc

    murphyc Well-Known Member

    I had been briefly exposed to the manual cut-and-paste layout in high school, but my paper got canceled for my senior year.
    A few years later, I'm interviewing for my second newspaper job. Boss shows me the waxer and cut-and-paste boards. I about crapped my pants but nodded and said "cool" or something like that.
    Six months later, we switched to pagination using Quark, like I'd used in college. I was lovin' it. My co-workers, most of whom had never done pagination, were hatin' it.
     
  8. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    My dad started in journalism in 1947, typing up stories on my grandfather's hand-me-down typewriter dating from about 1915. (I still have that typewriter on my office bookcase.)

    Stories were typed triple-spaced on half-sheets of copy paper, and pasted together with that stinky stretchy rubber cement. They were corrected in grease pencil on the copy sheets. If you wanted to move a paragraph, you cut the paragraph out with scissors and pasted the whole thing together again. Then you took the whole glued-together paper chain to the linotype operator, who typed the whole thing in character by character to have it set in hot lead.

    His last days at work were in November 2000, when he was laying out pages on Quark, designing graphic page elements and pulling in digitally-processed photos.
     
  9. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    Oh, how I love telling the newbies here how, back in my day, one of the perks of being an editor was you got an electric typewriter!

    Never did the teleram thing, but still remember with great pain the number of times a trs-80 failed me on the road. In fact, we ended up taking it for appearance's sake, knowing we'd have to dictate anyway and our plant was too f'ing cheap to update the technology! It was so bad, one time when I had an overnighter at a regional softball tournament, I dug up an old typewriter, wrote on it, and had the hotel desk fax it to my office, figuring it would be easier for them to read than take dictation.

    Oh, and there was the time we got an FTP site. The ME thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread, and wondered why I couldn't use that to send my stories from the state track meet!
     
  10. ThatGuy

    ThatGuy Member

    I started working at a radio station in the late 70's ...used to rip copy from the teletype and read it on the air...if the bell rang on the teletype it was an oh shit drop what you are doing moment...typed up stories on three layer paper that gave you two copies...the bottom one went to the news director...used to yell 'type harder I can't read this shit'....after a 23 year stint in the military came back out and got lucky and got a job working for a national publication covering NASCAR...in 2006 at Chicago the internet went down and I had to call my deadline story in via phone, good thing the desk person was old school 'First para: So and so won, (COMMA)...(STOP)...' we laughed later....also every time I walk into the press box at Daytona I see the old teletype machines by the door and say to myself 'I remember when those things worked' ...damn I'm getting old...
     
  11. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    1986: Pica poles . . . crop wheels . . . pasting type onto board in composing room . . . camera room has to shoot negatives of board from which to make a plate for press.

    Deadline: 2:15 a.m.


    2010: CCI . . . Newsgate . . . e-mail . . . stories going directly onto page when writer finishes . . . entire pages (ugh!) being available at the click of a button from sister papers . . . typeset pages going directly to negative for plateroom.

    Deadline: 11 p.m. (unless it's 10:30).

    Yep. Technology is wonderful. ::)
     
  12. rpmmutant

    rpmmutant Member

    My first job in newspapers was in the production department. I was cutting and pasting stories and sending the pages to the press room to be plated. I remember one night we had to melt down candles because we ran out of wax for the waxer. For some reason it didn't occur to us to just use glue. And I can't remember how many times I almost sliced the tops of my fingers off with Xacto knives.
     
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