I was thinking about The Herald’s 150th birthday during the weekend, and realized that I’m getting old – I’ve been here for more than a quarter of that century and a half.
I’ve worked for four publishers – the late George D. Lanier, Greg Taylor, John Lima and current publisher Sharon Sorg.
What stands out in my mind in those four decades are the technological advances that have changed the way we go about our jobs as Herald journalists -- the changes in the last 10 to 15 years that have come at warp speed and have revolutionized the entired industry,
When I walked through The Sharon Herald’s front door in 1973 I was greeted by the incessant click-clacking of manual Underwood typewriters in every department, especially the newsroom.
We eventually graduated to IBM Selectric typewriters, which paved the way for the scanning of typewritten stories, eliminating the need for that typesetting function by the proud men and women in our composing room.
Full-blown computerization of Herald operations would follow, with the purchase of a monstrous mainframe system developed by the Hendrix Corp., followed by its replacement years later with a “cadillac” front-end system manufactured by Atex.
We drooled at the ability of these systems – things we can do today with the mere keystroke at a personal computer.
Developing the annual newsroom budget was an arduous task until the 1980s, involving a calculator, lots of No. 2 pencils with good erasers, balanced columns of hand-written numbers, and the eventual transfer to final budget sheets. Oh, where were you Excel?
Our first tiny personal computer, an Apple Mac Plus, changed all that. I was able to take it home one weekend to work on budgets, and remember my former boss. Editor Jim Dunlap, being amazed that Monday morning that I had somehow completed my end of the deal in only two days.
The Internet and associated advances have revolutionized The Herald in more ways than I can recount.
Among the highlights is the development of digital color photography and the transfer of those images from places hundreds of miles away in a split second.
As a reporter in the 1970s, I can remember spending endless hours in the darkroom developing black and white film that I had shot. Some of it ended up a waste of my time and in the wastebasket – photographer wannabees like me really didn’t know what they had until they processed the film and were able to read the black and white negatives. Or they might have to wait until they made prints before you could tell if their work was OK for publication.
Eventually, retail stores that could develop color film and make prints in an hour were main players in the transition to digital photography. Our photographers, shooting out of town, could have their film processed and could make arrangements with a newspaper on the road to scan the photos and send them to The Herald – breathtaking stuff at the time, but dinosauresque by today’s standards.
Digital cameras and jpg images have blazed the trail in warp speed, making it possible to send a photo by email to The Herald from most anywhere in the world in the blink of an eye.
The Internet has provided an ability for The Herald to produce an online edition, offering the capability of a former print-only medium to provide news and advertising in electronic format.
Through it all, one thing has stayed constant – this newspaper’s desire, ability and dedication to serving its readers and advertisers as it has since the days of the Civil War.
Happy 150th Herald, and cheers to all of the men and women and former carriers, “Little Merchants,” who have contributed to its progress and incredible longevity throughout the last 150 years. Here’s to 150 more.