I miss the old days.
I miss walking into a newspaper office and smelling ink and paper. What a great smell. I miss wandering back to the dock and circulation area and seeing a bunch of little kids picking up bundles of papers to deliver in their neighborhood.
I miss hearing the clickety-clack of The AP teletype machine, and every once in a while the bell going off to let you know something big had just happened somewhere in the world. I miss going into the darkroom and developing a roll of film, printing the picture and learning how to “dodge” a photo to lighten it up.
I miss composing rooms and running a story or an ad through a waxer before taking an X-acto blade and cutting it out and pasting it on a broadsheet.
Sigh. This could go on a while.
Whether you worked in newspapers or not, you know what I mean. The younger members of the audience are already googling darkroom.
The point is, my friends, the newspaper world is changing . . . just like it always has. When I first started in the 1970s, some newspapers had what were then called VDT machines – and no, I won’t go into all the cracks we said VDT stood for. The first real newspaper I worked at didn’t even have those. We still had typewriters.
It’s all different today. A lot of newspapers don’t even print anymore. A number of papers – including the Journal-Review – sold off the presses and shipped that big hunk of iron and the jobs that went with it to other cities. When the Little Paper That Could hung our shingle out in 2004, we didn’t even buy a press. I’d like to say we were smart and visionary, but the reality is that outsourcing printing had already begun.
The reality today is that we have hundreds of print customers. But we have thousands of Online Edition customers. A further reality is that we have more readers today than we ever had in our 15 short years. Far more. And the vast majority reading these words are on an electronic device of some sort.
So we are going to take the next step in the evolution of newspapers and in 2019 we are going to emphasize our seven-day-a-week-365-days-a-year Online Edition and reduce the number of days we print.
Most of you won’t notice any change at all.
For those who are our print customers, we are going to offer you what we hope and think is a great deal – and we are going to call you personally to explain. Why? Because we think it’s important to be up front and talk to you about the changes.
See, a lot of us grizzly newspaper veterans have a soft spot for the printed copy. The business people in us understand the future, understand bottom lines and understand why the evolution from print to electrons is important. Maybe we’re just sentimental? And that’s really what’s got us continuing to produce any print version at all. We are certainly doing it as a courtesy to the print customers we have. And truth to tell, we’re doing it because it is one of the few links between now and a business some of us got into four decades (or longer) ago.
Things are changing. Just like they always have. We’ll continue to grow, but there’s a piece of me that hopes, even if it’s just a few, we always manage to have a few printed copies of the paper around. I love the smell of paper and ink.
Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Tuesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be contacted at ttimmons@thepaper24-7.com.