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Thursday’s the new Tuesday

By Kathryn Dunn

I woke Tuesday morning with a peculiar feeling.

After more than 20 years of Tuesday newspaper production, it dawned on me that this would be my last. Since the fall of 1991, minus some years of maternity leave and child-rearing, I have spent nearly every Tuesday parked in front of a computer screen at the COURIER, making newspaper pages and advertisements.

Under Martin Weinberger’s tutelage, I learned the essentials of page design and setting type. In those days, Martin would create headlines and captions using his old Olympia typewriter and then handwrite sizes for type alongside each headline.

It always impressed me how he could visually determine font size and how many words he needed to get the headline to fit across the page. Martin and Janis Weinberger were fascinated by type. Jan had a love affair with chubby, round fonts and you really couldn’t get the letters close enough together to satisfy Martin’s taste. “The bolder the better” was our motto then, which is rather fitting when you consider the Weinbergers’ bold personalities.

This was long before computer   software offered pagination and although we had QuarkXpress—a program we still use today to produce the COURIER—newspaper production required X-acto blades and wax to build the boards.

 

WAX ON

Without email, stories were written by the reporters in the newsroom, put on a floppy disk and carried to the back, where our typesetter Nancy Hipp had the task of retyping the stories into her computer. Nancy would print out the stories, with Martin waxing and pasting.

If a spelling error or typo occurred, Martin would bring out his magnifying glass and, using his X-acto, cut out only the line of type that had the error, replacing it with the corrected type. As you can imagine, production was a long and difficult process and much more hands-on than it is today. It was also more dangerous, and more than once, a COURIER employee headed off looking for a band-aid after a hasty X-acto mishap.

It certainly took a lot more people then. Our production staff consisted of myself, who built real estate ads and classified pages part-time, the full-time typesetter, Carole Aldrich, a full-time designer and 2 more in photo: photographer Tom Alleman—followed by Trish Branley—and Nestor, who shot PMTs from the negatives. I can vividly remember the chemical smell of the activator as Nestor resized images for Martin to do paste-up.

These were fun days at the COURIER, but newspaper production was a far more laborious endeavor. What I’ve realized over the years is that even though computers have replaced the need for so many bodies, it still takes about 7 hours for Jenelle Rensch and me to assemble the 20 or 24 pages each Tuesday—just as it did then. Ads are built throughout the week, but the news and classified pages are started from scratch each Tuesday morning.

We begin at around 8:30 or 9 a.m. and drop the final .pdf pages on a website to the printer by 4 p.m. At around 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday nights, the 4500 copies of the COURIER are delivered back to our office for the night crew to affix address labels for mailing on Wednesday.

This process won’t change drastically when we shift to a weekly, however, you may find a more high-strung COURIER staff on Thursday as we phase out Tuesday and Friday production days.

 

LOOKING AHEAD

It’s been an interesting journey with the COURIER through the years and, while I enjoy looking back at the advancements we’ve made in production, I am equally inspired by the possibilities of the future. For the old-timers who may feel apprehensive, I’d like to share that I will also miss getting my COURIER on Wednesday afternoons. I personally want to thank you for riding out our changes through the years and sticking with us in a very challenging industry.

Rest assured, we aren’t cutting a thing. Faithful Wednesday readers will still enjoy columns by John Pixley and Debbie Carini, the 9-day calendar and Our Towns. With change comes opportunity, and I hope you’re all as eager as I am to see a bigger, more colorful COURIER on Fridays.

See you next week!

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