That’s right, I went on a field trip! We (my class and I) visited the Beaver County Times to see a bonafide newspaper in action. It’s been 20 years since I went on a field trip ( I believe my last one was to some colonial era village in PA), so I really didn’t know what to expect. I have to say though, field trips as an adult rock!
I wasn’t really quite sure what to expect from a modern newsroom. Part of me knew that it would most likely have the same look and feel of any other modern corporate office I have ever visited. Not that this is a bad thing, it’s just that I carry this romanticized vision of 20’s era fast talking reporters yelling and screaming at one another while billows of cigarette smoke careen between the walls. That’s the newspaper I wanted to see. Of course, my first description is more accurate, but still, the men and women that run the paper are dedicated to their craft and certainly are passionate about what they do.
The Chief Editor gave us the tour and was more than accommodating to any of our request. She split us up into groups and we traveled around to all the separate stations that make a newspaper possible. We met with the sports guy, the lifestyle and entertainment girls, and just about every other person involved with getting all the separate sections put together for print. Most of the journalist were either out or not in yet (the real action, I’m told, happens later on in the evening when they are approaching their midnight deadline), which was fine because it was my editing class that was there, not a journalism class.
One part of the tour I found absolutely fascinating was the “old” printing press they used to have on-site. The machinery was long gone, as were the jobs running the press, but I still got a feel for just how immense this operation once was.
There is a loading dock on the bottom right hand side where workers used to wheel in huge drums of paper that came straight of the train line behind the building. When the cargo containers were spent, they just wheeled them back to the track and the next train that came along would pick them up. What a setup!
Looking at it now, though, you really wouldn’t know about all that – or even what the space was used for. It just felt eerie, like I was viewing into America’s cultural past from the modern day. Something in me longed to see all those freshly minted papers running up the belts, with the acrid and fresh smell of hydraulic oil and hot ink permeating the air. I guess I wanted to feel the nitty-gritty of it. Perhaps that’s just me looking for something familiar in an unfamiliar environment, but the newspaper of today is just that: modern.
There really isn’t that much else to say about it. The modern newspaper is ran just like a modern business, because that is exactly what is. And even though I didn’t get to see the newsroom of old, it was still a fantastic trip! I felt like a kid again. A sense of wonder sparked within me, and that, for any adult, is priceless. Thank you again to the men and women of the Beaver County Times, you have just made me a life-long subscriber. Keep up the excellent work!