Thursday, April 20, 2006
Change is OK
The past few weeks here at the newspaper have been a bit crazier than normal.
That’s because we upgraded our computers, and as usual, any technology change means a problem or two, here and there.
We’ve gone into panic mode several times, but actually compared to lots of production changes in the newspaper business I’ve seen in my 22 years on the job, this one has gone rather smoothly.
Co-workers Barbara Taylor and Linda Jones might not agree with that. They’ve had to work through the majority of the snags.
This business, like most others, has had to “keep up” as best it can.
First, in high school and college, I learned to type using an electric typewriter.
Do they still make those things?
At the weekly newspaper in Hamilton, Ala., at that time in the mid-80s, I still used a typewriter and then all of the type was reset using an old Compugraphic machine. It had a knob on the side, so you could roll it and pick the point size.
Then you printed tons of copy out at one time, in a long strip, and proofed. Then you ran corrections the same way.
Then we “pasted up” the newspaper on layout sheets. It took all night long.
Then a few years later, I crossed the state line to Fulton, and my good friend and publisher Rubye Del Harden told me we were getting new computers, made by Macintosh.
“It’s going to make things so much easier,” she said.
“Sure,” I thought.
We got the new Macs. She put one in front of me and basically said, “Here, use it.”
She was right. It was divine.
I’ve been working on those type computers ever since, and they’ve become much faster and wiser over the years.
We still did limited paste-up for many years – from my stays in Aberdeen to Laurel.
But no more. We’re totally computerized and have been for some time.
Since I’ve been in Holly Springs, we’ve gone from saving the pages on a zip disk and transporting them to our print site in Oxford via vehicle to now e-mailing the finished pages.
There are no more printed photos. We’re all digital.
We still have people call, wanting to buy a photo. You can do that by going to our Web site, www.southreporter.com and searching the “Photo Gallery.” Choices include lots of photos that did not make the newspaper. Order them online, pay for them online, and they will be delivered directly to your home.
All of this has sped up the process.
It’s even added up, most weeks, to getting the printed newspaper back to Holly Springs earlier. Most weeks now (knock on wood), it’s in the office anywhere from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on Wednesdays.
A lot of our problems from this latest computer upgrade surround fonts and “pdfs.” If that sounds sort of foreign to you, don’t worry, it’s kind of seemed that way to us, too, the past couple of weeks.
But as always has been the case in those 22 years in the business, the newspaper has never missed a publication day.
I can’t help but think of my good newspaper friends in the Gulf Coast area of Mississippi.
They’ve survived Hurricane Katrina and haven’t let the disaster stop them from “going to press.” The Sun-Herald is a Pulitzer Prize winner for its efforts.
Their dedication is unmatched.
Perhaps that’s why I think a few problems from a technology change are really no big deal. Things can always be a lot worse.
But if you do see something in your newspaper that doesn’t look exactly right, bear with us. We will figure this new stuff out soon, and then, by the time we do, it will be time for another upgrade.
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