Thinking about the many changes
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?
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.