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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Newspapers have certainly changed

Kerrville Times paperboy with dog
A paperboy for the Kerrville Times, mid-1950s.
My notes say "Robert Warren and Mickey."
Click on any image to enlarge
When I was a boy, the Kerrville Daily Times office was on Earl Garrett Street; the first owner and publisher I remember was Bill Dozier.
Kerrville Times offices on Earl Garrett Street
Office on Earl Garrett Street
I ran across some photographs of the Kerrville Daily Times printing plant in my collection this week, and I was amazed at the changes in the technology used to bring you the news.
Today's newspaper is very different from those produced in the mid-1960s, when most of these old photographs were taken. While ink is still put on paper today, much of the work before the press is very different.
This column, for instance, arrives at the newspaper office by email. I type it from my desk at work and send it in, usually quite late on Thursdays. I also send a link to the photographs accompanying the column, which I've stored 'in the cloud' for the editors of the paper to easily retrieve.
From there the column is placed on a page using a computer, and photographs are dropped into place using a mouse. Once a page has been prepared, it's sent to a machine which makes a printing plate. That plate is used on the printing press.
Linotype machines at the Kerrville Daily Times
Linotypes in a row
Not so in the photos from the 1960s. A long line of four Linotype machines prepared matrices of letters used to form type with molten lead. These columns of type were locked into a chase, along with 'cuts' of photographs, ads, and graphics, like maps.
Those Linotype machines were loud, hot, noisy beasts. The noise made in that row of typesetting machines would have been deafening.
Merely running the Linotype would not have been enough to prepare a newspaper, though.
Bill Dozier at work at the Kerrville Daily Times
Bill Dozier assembling
a page of type
I was happy to see a photo of a very young Bill Dozier assembling a page of type, readying it for the press. Each page would have been assembled by hand, and locked into position. In our shop, we have one of the old composition tables from the Kerrville Mountain Sun, a worthy competitor of the Kerrville Daily Times. Thousands of pages were assembled on that stand up desk.
Photographs were converted into an engraved piece of metal, the exact same height as a piece of type. I have a few of these old photograph cuts, and I still can't believe they worked.
Printing Press at the Kerrville Times
The dangerous press
Before 1967, the Kerrville Daily Times was printed on a press that, frankly, looks extremely dangerous. I could not help but notice what looks like an electric cord snaking its way across the floor, along with wrenches dropped beside the running press; both are tripping hazards. The machine itself has exposed gears and belts. One of the pressmen is smoking, even though some of the chemicals in a pressroom are flammable; in fact you can see three cans of solvent in the photograph. To the side you can see an open barrel of ink, and along the wall (and on a pane of the window), are handprints that look like the cave art of an ancient tribe.
Just looking at the photo scares me, and I've been around running printing presses a very long time.
Dozier family with Goss Community press Kerrville Daily Times 1967
The Dozier family with the new
Goss Community press, 1967
Later photos show the new Goss Community printing press being installed in 1967. It was safer and capable of printing in full color, a great improvement. Seeing the photograph of the Dozier family reading freshly-printed editions of the newspaper made me miss them.
Goss Community press Kerrville Daily Times 1967
KDT Goss Community
Compare with press above.
That press was a huge improvement, and allowed the newspaper to grow and thrive. No longer were pages composed of metal. Using a darkroom, the press used printing plates, something called, at the time, photo offset printing.
The noisy Linotypes were no longer needed, and composition was done using paste-ups and Rubylith. Photos were converted to a series of dots, or halftones, and placed into position.
Today computers have eliminated paste up and darkrooms. Photographs are scanned and sent as digital files. The pages go directly from the computer to the plate.
The thing that hasn't changed from these old photographs of the Kerrville Daily Times is this: it takes a lot of very talented people to bring you the news each week. Editorial, advertising, accounting, composition and pressroom staff work together to make the newspaper you're holding today, which is brought to you by hard-working carriers. Each issue is a kind of miracle.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who enjoys being a small part of your weekend newspaper.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times April 14, 2018.







1 comment:

  1. I remember visiting the offices of the Mountain Sun as a boy in the early 1970s. I think it may have been some kind of open house. I remember being there with my father and watching one of those old Linotype machines in operation while the typesetter set my name in a block of type. I don't remember the noise as much as I was fascinated by the machine in motion. By the time I got to college it was all paste-ups, and it wasn't long before we switched to computers.

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