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“. . . that stuff we learned then is obsolete. Everything’s computerized down to the presses: they still rumble but the smell of hot metal isn’t there any more. Even the smell of the ink has changed. It’s more efficient yet it’s more sterile.

. . . Everyone has a computer and not so many of them drink as we did back then.

* * * * *

While I agree that it’s more efficient, I’m not so sure that it’s better. I don’t have the experience you have, but I did spend a summer working for a weekly newspaper in my home town – reporting, advertising sales and layout, proofreading, whatever. The plant was located in a former residence. Press and linotype machines were in the basement; offices upstairs. Of course, the smell of hot metal and ink permeated the entire building. The editor and co-publisher (with his wife, the other named co-publisher) ran one of the linotype machines. Acie, the pressman, operated the other one (when the editor’s wife wasn’t operating it). It used to irritate the Hades out of me when one or the other of them revised my copy in the machine (I was 21 and knew everything there was to know about proper writing). ;-) The editor wrote his weekly column (aptly named “Chewin’ the Fat”) while sitting at the machine.

One of my jobs was delivering the “proofs” of the “legals” to the various governmental agencies and lawyers in the community the day before printing and waiting for their corrections (it being our hope, of course, that there would be none that would necessitate tearing out a line or more of lead for correction), which leads me to my thoughts on whether it’s “better.” The editor and publishers prided themselves on the accuracy of the printing, as well as the content, of the newspaper, weekly though it might be. Nothing irritated the editor more than to have a legal returned for correction, after it had been through the two internal proofreading reviews. I returned to my home town as a lawyer and had the pleasure of receiving “proofs” from that same newspaper, still under the auspices of that same editor. I never had to send anything back for correction. A few years after I returned as a lawyer, my partner and I represented the publishers in their sale of the newspaper to a small chain here in the State. They immediately went over to computers and the paper was printed in another town more than a hundred miles away and trucked back for delivery. We no longer received “proofs” and, apparently, no-one else bothered to proof read, either. It’s been a rare occasion over the last several years that the local newspaper “got it right” on the first try, so now it’s often published wrong (and charged for) the first time. That attitude pervades the present publication. It’s a rare article that does not contain at least one typo. It’s usually more numerous than one. I’m sure that my old editor and publishers are spinning in their graves. I realize that a good portion of that is the result of the lack of pride of the present folks responsible for preparing it, but I also allocate a lot of the blame to “efficiencies” that tend to further distance preparation from production.

Oh well . . . . .

Cal (showing his age pining for the "good old days")
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