| Times - and technology - moved on. The first items
of the revolution which came to be known as cold type, as opposed to hot-metal type, came
in the form of a machine called a Justowriter. It looked like a pair of overgrown
typewriters, though they were infinitely heavier.
One punched a paper tape. The other read the tape and typed
on paper the material to be used. Each sounded like a jackhammer, and the noise level in
the production department, which never had been low, went up sharply.
People took to wearing ear protection, for when the units
were set in a corner so that the sound was reflected off the walls, the noise level rose
to the point of being dangerous to one's hearing.
The strings of type thus produced were taken to inclined
light tables and pasted onto page-sized layout sheets known as flats. These were
photographed, and the resultant negatives used to burn an imagine onto a plate of thin
It was this plate which actually went onto the curved drum
of the press.
With the arrival of the Justowriter a new member of the
production team made his appearance: The technician who arrived to trouble-shoot when the
machine went "down" and would not operate.
The day of having one of the staff be a machinist who could
maintain the company machines was over.
With the arrival of cold type, The Chronicle sold its old printing
press and contracted with the Chelan Valley Mirror for presswork, a
system which continues to this day.
With the flats completed and the plates burned (done with a
machine like an arc welder), a driver takes off for Chelan while the staff does the
cleanup and reorganization - and takes the first steps toward the next issue.
And as the editors and reporters hold a staff meeting to
line out the next issue, the mailing crew assembles for addressing, sorting and bundling
of the papers.
Route carriers report to pick up their papers, some bundles
go to the post office for outlying subscribers, and distribution begins.
Technique there has changed, too. In place of the long lists
of subscribers (which Edna Emert set on the Linotype - she also managed subscriptions -
and the crew then pasted onto the papers with a form of paste which Edna cooked up on her
kitchen stove), the lists now are maintained on computers. They're printed out on
self-stick labels which the crew, their hands moving very rapidly, press onto the papers.
The Justowriters and their din lasted a couple of years.
Word around the shop was that they never had been designed for newspaper use.
With the arrival of the first Compugraphic machines -
blessedly quiet - the Justowriters were gone, following the way of the old press which had
made its own racket and shaken the ground of the building and part of North Main Street.
And after that The Chronicle was swept into the current of machine
changes which continues to the present. The Compugraphics set their type on
photosensitive paper in a cylinder which was put onto a large machine, the Trendsetter,
which "read" or developed it and turned out galleys of type.
These machines were partly computerized, and with them began
the series of constant updates of machinery which is a mark of our age.
A machine ordered from the manufacturer and which took three
months to get here was beginning to be obsolete before it was quite installed. The
Chronicle went through a series of Compugraphics (that company no longer exists because,
the word is, it did not keep up with technology as it was developing) and finally to fully
computerized typesetting equipment.
Representatives of the Compugraphics company came to The
Chronicle and spent several days teaching the staff the new techniques. The system
included dedicated word processors which allowed reporters to move from electric
typewriters to computers with floppy disks.
On occasion it was difficult to break in new things which
were totally unfamiliar - and still produce a paper on time.
And specialization, always present to some extent,
continues. There are things the production staff can do on their machines with the
computer programs they have that the news staff cannot do.
And in another closing of the loop, The Chronicle has
returned to the practice of a resident trouble-shooter, a computer specialist who keeps
the machines running.
This ranges all the way from wiring and installing new
machines to tracking down why a machine won't work suddenly, to helping out when there is
a momentary failure in the power. At that point, as screens go blank and work is lost, the
language in the newsroom is not publishable. It probably is no better in either production
With the change in ownership o Eagle Newspapers Inc., a new
source of technological information is available - along with news of improvements, aids
in records keeping and cautions about hazards on the Internet or in e-mail. Eagle is a
source of support
But technology is not the only thing which has yielded to
time. Philosophy of publication also changes.
Early Chronicles had a way of announcing suicides in
headlines, an action which must have wrenched at the families of those concerned.
Sometimes it was gory details in accidents.
Today the language is more circumspect.
And in going over old issues it is possible to sense a
changing social outlook with the passage of time. Old cartoons lampooning other races are
definitely out these days - as they should be - and The Chronicle strives to present the
viewpoint of both sides on controversial matters.
It hasn't always been this way. (I was told one time that
the paper at Yakima, in the hands of a staunch Republican, did not even mention the word
Democrat. They didn't exist.)
Chronicle file photo
|Elizabeth Widel works at the Justowriter in 1971. The machine was incredibly noisy, she
Chronicle file photo
|Shop foreman and machinist Bill Rowe (left) helps dismantle the press in 1969. The press
was sold and kept on working, though not in newspapers.