Breland: Life calls for changes in a new direction…

Published 2:03 pm Friday, February 25, 2022

We had students touring The Daily News and it was my turn to guide them through the different departments and explain the processes of actually printing the newspaper on a daily basis.

I went there in 1971 to work in news. The entire plant had recently been changed and everything moved into a new building, with a new press and printing process called off-set. Everybody was getting used to all the new processes.

I knew how most things worked to explain to the students, except I wasn’t too awfully sure about the exact off-set printing process on the press. I thought I did, but what if I was wrong? I decided when I got to the pressroom, I would let Head Pressman Herb Travis or one of the other pressmen explain to the visitors.

It was right after lunch and not one pressman was available! So I plunged in, explaining the process. My terms were plain, as I told them how the inked image is transferred from a metal plate to a blanket and then to the paper roll on the press, using oil, water and ink. I pointed to the stages on the press and showed them metal plates.

They could see some copies of the papers on the press after printing. I was hoping what I said made some sense to these bright youngsters, who were really interested. They asked questions! Then I looked up and saw Herb Travis standing at the end of the pressroom, with a slight grin on his face. “Uh-oh” I thought.

I carried on and finished the tour, then I went back to the pressroom. I knew Herb was going to tell me what was wrong with what I said, and maybe poke a little fun at me. I am not mechanical at all!

“Herb, I may have not been exactly right, but it was the best I knew,” I said.

He smiled big and said, “That was the best explanation of the off-set printing press I have heard given in this pressroom.”

That made me feel very relieved. I was so glad I had given these students the right information, and a compliment from Herb was great!

Things changed from those days. We were still using manual typewriters, but it wasn’t long before early computers came to our desks. We had typesetters who set all the copy and those who manually put together newspaper-sized pages.

News people went out and got stories, wrote them up and handed them to the editor. Editors made up small paper copies of the pages and people in the back shop put them together and took them to be photographed for the press plates.

Once we had two presses running in the pressroom and many pages of copy being printed for other newspapers. The noise in the building was astounding!

When I retired from the newspaper, news people were putting everything together in the newsroom. I assume they still do this.

Not only do they write stories, they edit them, make up pages on the computer and send them to the press. There is no back shop to handle all this anymore. The advertising work is done in their own department as well.

Unless you have worked there, it is hard to realize how much has changed. For many, many years, The Daily News put out six papers every week. The Sunday paper before Katrina came through on Monday was the last daily paper.

The press will be shutting down at The Daily News, but there will still be a newspaper! It will be printed somewhere else, but we will still get it. As we printed papers for other papers in the past, we will now have ours printed by others.

Change can be hard, but also good. So many of the people from the past are gone, with newer folks now doing things a different way.

I must say it was a grand time for us. People were together like family. I am thankful I can remember after so many years and am here to write about it.

Retired as Associate News Editor, Bob Ann Breland writes a weekly column for The Daily News. You can email her at bobann70@att.net.