Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Days of auld lang syne and -30- (edited)

Have you voted for which photo I should submit to a photo contest? Well, what are you waiting for??
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Facebook has brought me back in touch with a lot of people from my rusty, dusty past. Some from elementary school. Some from high school. Some from college.

And a couple from the old days at my very first newspaper job. Those are the ones that bring back some interesting memories of an industry that has undergone more change than you can find in my piggy bank.

Here are 10 things I remember from my first newspaper job as a general assignment cityside reporter, almost 35 years ago.

1) Getting our wire service news on teletype machines. Talk about noisy.

2) Using manual typewriters to write stories on half-sheets of paper that were so rough you could get splinters from them.

3) Making what were called "books" out of half-sheets and carbon paper. Three half-sheets and two pieces of carbon paper equaled a book. Does anyone use carbon paper anymore???

4) Being told to write a "book and a half" on a story. That's not very long, people.

5) Not putting your own byline on a story -- ever -- and not GETTING one unless you wrote more than 2 books. When I left that job and started working for another newspaper, I was positively freaked out by the idea of putting my own byline on a story. I thought I had to EARN it. I was so young.

6) Punching a timeclock. To this day, I find that weird for a reporter.

7) Needing a badge to get OUT of the building. Security issues, anyone?

8) Hearing about the firing of the security guard because the publisher tricked him into letting him out of the building without his badge (true story).

9) Taking dictation* from the guy at city hall or the cops dude and not being able to hear, so I would squish the headset against my ear with my shoulder, leading to a muscle-spasm issue that plagues me to this day.

10) Making a massive gum-wrapper chain because the city editor -- a guy who wore a yellowed white shirt and skinny tie and chewed a massive cigar all day long -- refused for some unknown reason to send me out on a story for DAYS. I had to entertain myself somehow ...

Ah, memories.


*Edited to add: Yes, dictation. No email, no electronic anything. If you wrote a story from a remote location, you called in and READ it to one of the poor general assignment suckers. We typed it up and turned it in. And no, we didn't put THEIR bylines on them either.


Suzanne said...

How things change.

We used the AP wire machines in radio, and it never failed that if I were wearing white, the teletype ribbon was threadbare and would be replaced. Always.

It was a skill that came in handy for a later job-changing the time clock ribbons. Why a salaried manager had to punch in and out, I'll never know. It's just as strange as a reporter doing it!

The Duchess of Wessex said...

I haven't made my mind up about Facebook yet. Some that have contacted me are fine, but others are just scary. And, all the games and poking and this and that confuses/annoys me.

Every time I'm at a store I flash back to the days when I first became a cashier - when we had to look up the tax to charge and run names through the list of bad-check writers in the town.

Memories... I wonder what our kids will look back on as their, "Olden days of way-back-when."

Happy Tuesday!

Roger said...

Amzing how technology has changed and now we can read a "paper" online. Crazy, but cool as well.

Burgh Baby said...

Was that post in English? I mean, I recognize some of the words, but dictation? Carbon paper? Huh? ;-)

LceeL said...

You just reminded me of when I was a kid and started my neighborhood newspaper. I had an old Royal typewriter that I LOVED. I always knew someday I would write the Great American Novel. Not yet. And the typewriter is long gone - although I see similar ones in antique shops and I get the urge to walk in ....

The Laundress said...

Friggin facebook is a time suck. And I can't quit it.

I miss you.

Kila said...

Enjoyed reading this. Brought back memories of how things used to be!

HalfAsstic.com said...

Wow. That's the kind of stuff I think of when I think of reporter. Only I automatically place you in a news room that looks a lot like the one on Mary Tyler Moore. (Even though it was supposed to be a TV news show-this is how off base I am). And I also throw in a little of Clark Kent, Lois Lane and of course Jimmy, the news boy. ;-)

Daisy said...

Remember the show Lou Grant? Their first season the reporters had typewriters. As the series went on, they had word processors. Not computers, but the old word processors.
Now -- my husband got called at 3:50 AM to take the satellite truck out to breaking news (bus crash). Satellite truck? Carbon paper? Whoa. Brain freeze!

Kaytabug said...

You are so cool!!!

Audrey at Barking Mad said...

I love reading stories from those who were in the newspaper business when it was still a business and not a flailing industry on the brink of obsolescence. My very first year in the radio business we used an AP wire machine and it fascinated me endlessly for some reason.

Like you, since I discovered Facebook, I've reconnected with several people from my youth and it's been interesting and bizarre at the same time. I'm still undecided about it.

Janet said...

I remember carbon paper (I learned to type on a MANUAL typewriter) and I learned to run a mimeograph machine in college (remember the blue ink?).

Tricking the security guard was a nasty trick. I hope that publisher discovered Karma shortly thereafter.

nikki said...

The question is- what ever happened to the massive gum wrapper chain?

Huckdoll said...

1. I did my very first resume on a typewriter.

2. Dictation?! I've been dictating for my should-be-long-retired bosses for years. GAH. I'm so glad I'm out of there :)

3. Shorthand, too. Yes, shorthand.

4. I punched a true time clock at my first job at 15 - and LOVED it.

It don't phase me :) Loved this post - it brought back lots of memories for me, too. Perspective - it's amazing to realize just how much things have changed. I'm already putting bets on when th girls go to high school and that we'll have to buy the new Mac Book or else they'll be OMG, OUTCASTS.

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