I’ve been at The Press a shorter time than many of my colleagues, but just in my 16-year tenure, “business as usual” has changed significantly.
Though the paper’s mission has remained the same since that first issue rolled off the presses 40 years ago, how we pull it all together has changed significantly, thanks to technology.
Even our forward-thinking publisher, who embraced technology and championed his company to develop ad writing software for the real estate industry, could not have imagined how innovations would revolutionize how we do business.
Most of us have a love-hate relationship with technology. It can be daunting to turn on your computer in the morning and see 137 emails, or worse, see the “blue screen of death” on your monitor, knowing you’ve probably lost important files and hours of work. And let’s not even talk about the havoc a thunderstorm or power outage can create on deadline day.
Yet, the relationship with technology is overwhelmingly “love,” probably most among our longtime employees.
Ken Grosjean, Press photographer and graphic designer, joined the staff in 1984 as an advertising sales representative.
Like they do now, at the time, sales reps would meet with customers and return to the office to design the ads.
“Back then, ad design was a painstaking and labor-intensive process, compared to today,” Grosjean said. “We would draw the ad to size, write in the copy – noting `copy A, copy B’ etc., find art in a copy book, cut it out and paste it all together. Even borders were applied by hand with border tape.
“Finished ads were sent to the plant in Sandusky and the art was shot down to the correct size,” he said. “If your handwriting wasn’t clear, or someone didn’t read it right, there could be errors and the copy would have to be redone.”
Ad sales rep Julie Gentry, who has been at The Press for 33 years, also recalls the painstaking process of designing ads and trying to meet customers’ needs back in the early days of her employment.
“I recall having to send ads we did by Priority Mail to Sandusky,” she said. “On Wednesday night or Thursday we would send a courier.
“If a customer requested a proof, they could send it back to us via the telephone on a QUIP machine – I guess it was the earliest version of a fax machine,” she said. “We would put the phone in a cradle on the machine, and the ad would come across.”
On Fridays, a contingent of Press employees would travel to the plant to proofread and oversee final production.
“Now it’s all done by computer,” Grosjean said. “What we do now is very detailed, but you’re not doing it with an X-acto knife.”
Grosjean subsequently became Circulation Manager, and took on photography duties as well.
“At the time, we were only using black and white photos taken on Kodak Tri-X film,” he said. “We’d buy film in bulk, and load it into canisters for use.”
After photos were taken, film was taken to Frontier Trading Post in East Toledo, where owner Paul Henretty would develop the photos. Eventually, the paper added a darkroom and Henretty joined the staff as assistant circulation manager. “In-house developing meant hours and hours in the darkroom – very time-consuming, Grosjean said.
“When we started taking color photos, we had to send that film out to be developed, which, of course, meant we had to wait for them to come back, which on deadline day, could be frustrating and cause delays,” he added.
Today with digital photography, Grosjean and other staff members have the capability to immediately process photos they take, along with photos emailed by readers and members of the community.
“The programs we use to paginate the paper give us greater creative control over the final product,” Grosjean said. “We do the layout here – including building and placing the ads, processing the photos and inserting the copy. The result is not only time and cost savings, but also a cleaner and more accurate product.”
“Looking back at how we used to do things, the whole process seems so antiquated,” he said. “The technology has made it easier and more efficient. And learning new things can keep the job fresh and challenging.”
Cindy Harder, who is Classified Manager and Office Manager, started in February 1988 as a part-time classified ad sales rep. “At the time, we had to handwrite every ad – I had writer’s cramp alot,” she said. “We would send those ads on paper to the plant for typesetting and printing. If they couldn’t read what you wrote, or had a question, they’d have to call and ask for clarification.”
Harder recalls when the office added computers, more specifically, the classified ad program that helped sales reps compile ads electronically.
“It was better than handwriting, but there was a big potential for problems,” she said. “When deadlining, you had to pay very close attention because there was one part in there that if you hit the wrong key you could delete everything.
“It happened one time – all the ads were gone,” she said. “We just ran all the ads from the previous week. On Monday, the customers whose ads were lost started calling and they weren’t happy. I’ll never forget it.
“Fortunately, the program we have now doesn’t do that,” she said. “You can’t even put in the wrong date because it tells you.”
In the newsroom, technology seems to change the way we do our jobs more and more each year. For example, when I finish this story, I will, through remote connection, put the story on our server and even print it out for proofreading – much more convenient and timely than saving it to a floppy disk, driving to the office, hoping the disk can be read, etc. Even that, however was better than it used to be, when our reporters and editors typed stories, fixing errors with tape and Wite-Out.
Technology also allows readers to email information, letters to the editor and other submissions, saving them a stamp or a trip to the office and saving us fax paper.
And we’re able to get news and information to you faster and between publication dates on our website at www.presspublications.com, on our Facebook page and on Twitter.
So visit our pages, email us your announcements, story ideas, comments, photos and news. No computer? No worries…we welcome your contact the “old fashioned way” too.