The Local Newspaper :: Field Trip

We joined our homeschool friends for a field trip to our local newspaper this afternoon. I recall visiting a newspaper when I was a young girl – in fact, it was one of the most memorable field trips. I was therefore looking forward to this trip … eager to learn how technology had changed the newspaper industry. And, indeed it has. The Gutenburg printing press will soon be introduced in Story of the World and when we get home to the coast again, I hope to take the kids to the printing museum (The Marshfield Sun) if it is still there.

Some of the many rolls of newsprint paper & the barrels of ink (black, yellow, red and blue)

We started out in their mini-museum … essentially the landing area on the second floor … which displayed a model of the printing equipment they use, an antique typewriter, and a few photographs of past editors.  We were then lead through the doors to offices and news desks.  We met with a young man whose role was to produce the Letters to the Editor and Op-ed pages.  We waved at the Editor/Owner from the glassed wall windows.  We ducked into the rooms for the Copy-Editor and learned that technology has likely affected this part of the paper the most … no more cut & paste.  Everything is done on computers nowadays … and in fact, the girls at this desk had never worked with the older forms of copy layout.  “We’ve always used the computer.”  I inquired about the software they used and they replied that they use a combination of DTI, Adobe InDesign, InCopy, PhotoShop and Illustrator. 

 
 These aluminum panels are printed for each page of the paper … one sheet for each color. They are then loaded onto rollers to print the desired color onto the newsprint paper.  These sheets are used just once and are thereafter recycled.  Any ideas how one might re-use these ??

From there, we were led into the newrooms and discovered that each section of the paper (Business, Sports, Local, etc.) had distinct areas within the newsroom, divided by cubicles. We meet with a young woman who in fact wrote a couple articles for today’s issue.  She spoke of how she goes out into the field to report on local events and will later return to the office to write up her articles.  “Deadline is midnight.”  She talked about how she sometimes has to rewrite her article numerous times to get it just right … even sometimes after she thinks it is perfect, her editor will still give back to her and request changes.

This technician was explaining how they use computers to mix the colors to get the desired intensity.  This is another area that technology has dramatically changed.  He stated the job is much less ‘messy’ than when he was an apprentice.  Hanging above his head were ‘true light’ bulbs to help technicians see the colors more accurately.

 

When one of the students asked why the type set was so small, she discussed how newspaper circulation is dwindling and that because of the internet, so many people have stopped subscribing.  The cost of producing a newspaper is expensive, particularly the paper and the ink, so to help cut costs, the font size is small to fit more text on the page and thereby use less ink and paper. 

These photos show how the paper is fed through the press.  
Black ink is printed onto the paper first, followed by yellow, red and finally blue.
From the newsroom, we then walked along the perimeter of the “factory-like” floor where the newpapers are folded and sorted for distribution.  Unfortunately, this room is most active in the wee-hours of the night (printing for the daily paper begins after midnight) so we didn’t get to see this room in action.  One mom suggested they have television monitors to play short videos … my little one said, “Yeah, like at the Jelly Belly Factory!”   The stacks of bundled papers are the ads and various inserts, like for Sunday’s edition.  These are on site up to 1 month in advance to assure the paper can go out without delay.  In addition to the daily printing of our local paper, this press is also used to print numerous other weekly papers – some as far as the valley.
We concluded our tour in the hallway where the walls on each side were adorned with poster-reprints of old editions of the paper.   One wall showcased the history of the local area (the arrival of the railroad, the closure of the lumber mills, etc.) while the other side focused on national and world news (the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the space shuttle Challenger disaster, 9-11, etc.).  It was a most enjoyable afternoon.  Buddy summed it up perfectly, “Mom, this is a great tour!”