Think­ing about the many changes

Tri-County Vanguard - - OP-ED - Tina Comeau

This is Na­tional News­pa­per Week.

On Mon­day as I wrote this col­umn a news re­lease had popped up in my email in­box from News Me­dia Canada.

It spoke about the launch of a new cam­paign to rally Cana­dian’s sup­port for news­pa­per jour­nal­ism dubbed #NowMoreThanEver and the in­tent is to in­vite Cana­di­ans to show their sup­port for the news me­dia in­dus­try.

It used to be back in the day that peo­ple al­ways said there was no good news in a news­pa­per.

It’s fright­en­ing to think that some peo­ple would be­lieve there is no real news ei­ther.

No fake news here, folks. There’s been a lot of changes in our news­room since I started work­ing here in May of 1990.

It’s hard not to think of any week cel­e­brat­ing news­pa­pers with­out think­ing about the changes.

When I first started work­ing here we used to slosh around in the dark­room to make our photos. I ru­ined a lot of cloth­ing in those years. We had aprons and coats we could wear over our cloth­ing but most of the time I tempted fate. Fate, it turns out, had a bet­ter win-loss record than I did.

It was called a dark­room for a rea­son. While we de­vel­oped our photos un­der the glow of a red light, we de­vel­oped the films in pitch-black dark­ness.

You’d lay out can­is­ters on the counter with chem­i­cals pre­mixed in them, hop­ing you re­mem­bered that the de­vel­oper can­is­ter was on the right and the fixer – which stopped the devel­op­ing process – was on the left.

Or was that the other way around?

Uh-oh.

We used can open­ers to open the film can­nis­ters. Then we’d wind the film onto a spi­ral reel that we’d click back and forth un­til it had wound up the en­tire film. If you were lucky you ac­com­plished this in about 30 sec­onds. In the dark.

If you were un­lucky the reel broke in half and you had to find an­other one. In the dark.

Or you dropped the film on the floor and had to get on your hands and knees feel­ing around for it on the dirty floor. In the dark.

Hope­fully there was no mouse­trap on the floor.

Did I men­tion it was dark? Re­gard­less, I loved work­ing the dark room.

There was some­thing about see­ing a pho­to­graph come to life be­fore your eyes, as you splashed chem­i­cals onto your cloth­ing, per­ma­nently stain­ing and ru­in­ing them.

Even­tu­ally we switched to one­hour film devel­op­ing. I didn’t like those years. You had to drive back and forth to the store to get your pho­to­graphs and we wasted a lot of film be­cause some­times we needed a pic­ture be­fore we had shot off the en­tire film. Other times, so as not to waste film, we’d keep shoot­ing so it took that much longer to see the photos.

Still, it was eas­ier on your cloth­ing.

Given the choice, I’d stick with the dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy we do nowa­days. I like to know what I’ve got the in­stant I have it. Plus, it’s a fast-paced busi­ness and we need the photo be­fore it’s even taken. We’re not just a news­pa­per that re­ports the news once a week in print. We have a web­site that is up­dated daily. We’re post­ing sto­ries, slideshows and videos on it. We’re Face­book­ing and we’re tweet­ing.

I’m sure if some­one had told me in 1990 that one day I’d be tweet­ing I would have been con­fused.

Huh? We’re go­ing to make bird noises to tell peo­ple about the news?

On the one hand tech­nol­ogy has made things eas­ier. On the other hand, it’s added to the work­load. Edit­ing photos takes time, es­pe­cially if you’ve shot off a cou­ple hun­dred at an event and need to whit­tle them down. Prepar­ing videos takes time. Up­load­ing photos, videos and sto­ries to the web­site takes time. And while we’re do­ing all of that we’re also writ­ing sto­ries, con­duct­ing in­ter­views and try­ing to keep on top of an ever-grow­ing email in­box. To­day there’s only 454 emails in my in­box. One day last week there 965.

The truth is, we could work around the clock to bring you the news, but we need time to sleep and we need time for our per­sonal and fam­ily lives.

Still, one day last week, while feel­ing over­whelmed with the amount of work I still had to fin­ish that day, I said to my son, who was sit­ting in my of­fice, “I wish there were 57 hours in a day.”

“So you could work all of those hours?” he said.

“Okay, maybe 27 hours,” I replied un­der­stand­ing what he meant.

The news never stops, but at times I have to.

Point taken.

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