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Long way from hot metal: the changing face of newspapers

Started by Mechanic, December 31, 2011, 04:33:22 AM

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This feature from the Melboune Age is an interesting reporters view of the tranisition from hot metal to cold type.


The composing room at the former Age building on Spencer Street, during the last days of hot metal in 1983.

QuoteWas it really that long ago I worked the midnight-to-dawn shift at the London Daily Express, "stoning-in" the flong pages? Flongs were the prepared paper for making stereotype moulds, which were taken in advance of the feature pages and sent to Manchester and Scotland for the next day's editions. This was in the 1970s, when union power was at its zenith, and long before Rupert Murdoch's overnight move to the wharves of Wapping and computer technology.

Read more:
George Finn (Mechanic)
Gold Coast

Dave Hughes

A good read George, I particularly liked this bit:

Production journalism then was a cumbersome, time-consuming process that depended less on subeditorial speed and efficiency than it did on the whim of a host of workers who thronged the composing room, busy as the occupants of an ant farm: linotype operators to set the stories; pieceworkers to cast the headings; gravure workers to process and mount the photographs and artwork; compositors to make up the pages and proof them. All in a space of steel, metal, lead and wet paper that looked like a cross between a hospital kitchen and an armaments factory, and smelt like a cross between a foundry and a weather shelter for saturated dogs. (The wet paper, by the way, was for page proofs — the dampness improved the absorbency as a giant roller rumbled over the page forme.)

I've never heard of the comp room described as " a cross between a hospital kitchen and an armaments factory" before.

Good to hear the old "journos" have a nostalgia for the old days as well.
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