First Posted: 1/15/2009
I'm not so old that I can recall the hot-metal days of publishing a newspaper.
I can, however, remember how things were done when I sentenced myself to a life of destitution by entering the world of journalism as a sports writer in 1983. In those days, we used a VDT to send copy in strips to the composing room, where heated wax was used to assemble a page, the foundation for a burnt plate that was sent to the press.
Since then I have watched as the computer has changed the way that a newspaper is prepared for the press. I haven't always understood the process, which is why I am struggling mightily to write this. But, with the help of my publisher, Lynn McLamb, who's a lot smarter than me and is peering over my right shoulder, I might be able to fool you.
The Robesonian newspaper is about to become a fully paginated newspaper. So what is pagination? It's kind of like a puzzle arriving in one piece, instead of hundreds.
The drop-dead day for a fully paginated paper is Tuesday. At least that's the plan. But there is already evidence of this evolution.
The best place to see the difference that pagination provides is by taking a look at our comics page today. If you compare it with a comics page from two weeks ago, you will see a cleaner and crisper look. A computer has a much more exact eye than does a human being, who had been in charge of making all the corners fit flush. When that didn't happen, you might have found yourselves tilting your head in order to avoid reading uphill.
Why should you care? Well, apparently you read this newspaper, and what you will be reading in the future will be of better quality. That will extend to photographs, color and black and white, advertisements, and the overall appearance of the product. Although the entire product will be paginated beginning Tuesday, that look will not be final. In December, we will begin using film instead of paper, which will take us up another notch.
As editor of this newspaper, I'm excited about these changes, even if I don't fully understand how they all fit together. I'm also excited about a project that this newspaper is now undertaking, which is a complete redesign of The Robesonian.
Bob Sloan, our copy desk chief, and Sports Editor Tim Rafalski are co-chairmen of a committee that is looking at this newspaper's content and design. The best part is that I don't have to do any additional work, except to give a thumbs up or a thumbs down to the prototypes that they hand me. It's fun being the boss.
The new and improved project should debut sometime in the late spring or early summer. And, as always, there's no extra charge to you, our readers.
-- Donnie Douglas can be reached at 739-4322, Ext. 104, or by e-mail at [email protected]