Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The End of An Era

Many of you get your newspaper delivered every morning. Most of you never really give it much thought.

I work for one of those newspapers, and ours is being "regionalized". It's not a big city paper, it's certainly not the "Times" or the "Washington Post", but.......to the people who live here on the our little bit of sand, this has been their newspaper for as long as they remember, or as long as even their grandparents remember.

I want to give you all a glimpse into what this is. I will do this in two parts. The first part, I will show you the mechanics, the second half..........I will let you know how this effects YOUR community. That paper that you get on your stoop every morning starts here:

Thousands upon thousands of pounds of paper (click on the pictures and you can enlarge them). Rolls so big that the awe you just to look at them. Different sized, some for the daily paper, some for the inserts that you get, or your weekly entertainment section. But they are huge!

Moving on, the ink.

These are the small vats of ink. The colored ones. Blue, Red and Yellow (all your primary colors). these vats are so big that tankers have to refill them by hose. I didn't get a pic of the "black" ink tank because it's HUGE and in a corner that is very dark.

Onto pre-press. Pre-press is what happens when the creative services department of the paper does their thing, and they send it to this GINORMOUS machine to make the plates that go on the press, that actually prints the paper. These plates are laser scanned. Let me show you.
All the way to your right is where the metal plates are stored. Immediately to it's left, is the laser. It finely etches the plates. As it comes down the line, ultimately it end up to your far left, where the metal plate (the size of a full unfolded newspaper page) is notched on the ends to fit on the tumblers of the press.

This would lead us to the press.

It's a truly ugly machine. Sometimes, walking around it, it reminds me of a Stephen King novel. I swear that the thing breathes and has thrived on it's share of human blood.

But, before you look at it just as an ugly machine, I have a small tale to tell:

One day, because the machine always made me nervous, I was walking thru this very long room....all alone. Hearing the noise of my heels on the concrete, I decided this GREEN MACHINE was not going to freak me out. Thinking there was no one around, and listening to the rhythm of my heels on the floor, I started to sing..........IN THE JUNGLE THE MIGHTY JUNGLE, THE LION SLEEPS AT NIGHT.............before I knew it, (they are actually two presses) out of the belly of the beast, I saw three pressman's heads peek out. They got a good laugh out of it, I was embarrassed, but it was all good.

Back to the beast.
Yes, that long strip of white in the front, is the newspaper about to be printed.

Cool, huh?

You know those inserts that you get in your paper? Coupons, Entertainment issues? Those are processed here:

This is a machine that inserts all those things into the paper. An attendant stands at every station. What looks like scales to you, is actually a shaker. It makes sure that all the inserts are aligned so that when you get your paper, it's all nice and neat.

Here's how those inserts get into your paper:

Yes, it's another machine! But it takes a lot of personal labor to make this work right.

For those of you that read your comics on Sunday.......I read your Sunday comics on Tuesday.....almost a whole week before you do. Here's what they look like while they are awaiting insertion into your Sunday paper!
When you are awaiting your horoscope, I've already read it! Just kidding, I don't peek.

You know those grocery coupons that you get in your Wednesday paper, and those coupon books you wait for on Sunday? Here is how they come..........and we can't even peek at those before the date that they get into the paper (yes, not even employees get to see them). But this is what they look like on days before they find themselves in your paper:
The reason I am telling you all of this, and showing you this, is twofold.

First, my paper is closing. The press will be gone by December. We are regionalizing our press operations to a "hub" location with a new digital press. It is more efficient.
And second, because if people continue to get their news on line, all the people that work these fabulous machines, are out of work.

There will be no more local news, we will all eventually turn into a "USAToday" forum.

It just isn't practical for us to produce newspapers anymore.

In a era, and an election year, where we blame our government for loss of jobs, we never do look to ourselves.

Something as simple as buying a newspaper can keep the people that live in your community employed. Some of those people have been working hard to bring you your news for most of their lives.

When we talk about economy, how do we see ourselves? Canceling our newspaper subscription may be our own personal revolt against the editorial staff. Little do we ever think about the ramifications of our actions. That our very own neighbors might work on the press, or be a carrier.

Do we ever think about how this mass exodus from the printed word affects our neighborhood? Our neighbors?

It's simple things like this that we miss, when we all live in a "global community"

If we continue to look to our "government" to save jobs, maybe we ought to look to ourselves and how our daily purchases influence the jobs in our neighborhood.

***Disclaimer*** All of our waste paper and metal plates are recycled. We also donate $500,000.00 a year to Newspapers in Education

Participants in NIE donate their newspapers to the students in local schools. Through special features like Kids Scoop (a half a page of activities for kids), to special stories, and an online curriculum for kids, parents and teachers, children learn to use the newspaper as a learning tool.

Please check with your school system to see if they subscribe to NIE.


hippochick said...

Michelle, I am wondering how this will affect you. Secondly, I want to say, I just couldn't live without my newspaper - the comics, which I read every day since I've retired; my crossword puzzle; the weather; the local news and obituaries. I love the paper.

~hippo hugs~

Cheryl Wray said...

This was really interesting...and it made me think back to my childhood when my Dad was the editor of a small weekly newspaper. We'd take the layouts over to the printing press and it was so cool to see the entire operation!

Diane said...

It is sad that the paper is closing. Thank you for walking us through the whole process. It's very interesting...and makes it doubly sad that it's coming to an end.


Nancy said...

I don't even have time to read a newspaper! Your setup looks somewhat like my son's...except no laser, and his is a minature setup compared to yours there. He puts out about 50,000 newsletters every month...it's a marketing service where we sell ads for the insides. I do the layouts of most of the newsletter and also lay out most of the ads, and he does the printing on a Riso printer. It's a big production for us! LOL He loves it and will never sell that business. Then we have the property management company in FL. This is why I keep sooooo busy all the time. I haven't even been to bed yet! I am about ready to call it a day and get a few hours sleep now. This old lion sleeps during the day! LOL

This was really an interesting post!!! Glad you shared it with us!

I have an older friend (Myrtle) who is around 80 who still works for our paper here...she works 9-1, 6 days a week. She is their one and only telemarketer and sells subscriptions to the paper every day! She could sell snow to an Eskimo, I swear! I heard that saying just recently, somewhere! But it's true, she could! They let everyone else go on day shift and kept just her....they even got rid of second shift altogether in the telemarketing department! She is THAT good on the phone!!! She's got that "grandma" voice, if you know what I mean.

It really takes teamwork to get the paper out! I had a paper route between jobs one time....I made more than any other carrier in the entire area a I had the worst area in the city!!! Drugs, prostitutes, you name it! I cleared over $1600 a month for just 3-4 hours a day of work! Loved it but it really wasn't safe for a woman to be out there alone like that, not in the areas where I had to deliver! LOL

(((((( HUGS ))))))

Bronie said...

great post michelle! i'm sorry about the paper though. i like the feel of a book, newspaper, etc. in my hand as i read. i could never read an e-book! i got your message about the meme. i'll hopefully get to it today... a little nuts around here. : )

Bronie said...

hey, it's me again. i finally got my meme posted. sorry it took me so long. it was fun, and it was a good distraction. btw, i did get your message. i just didn't post it because it was personal. thank you for taking the time to think of me. i am truly feeling better. i have been in the "fog" before, and God is always faithful. to this point, it has always cleared on its own. eventually. :)

郭富城Jason said...