My first day on the job, a fellow reporter gave me a walk-through of the paper. Where the bathroom was, where the break room was. The tour capped off with the cavernous pressroom, that she described to me as a good place to blow off steam now and then.
Over the next few years I would blow off a lot of steam in that room. Sometimes I'd wander back there mid-day when it was quiet. It was like a hushed, industrial cathedral, the only sound my steps and breaths, inhaling the incense of ink and paper, afternoon light pouring through the windows. Sometimes I'd stalk back there late in the evening, at the tail end of a tiresome shift, when the room was alive. The hulking old machine whirring whirring whirring and pressmen shouting their conversations.
But I couldn't help feel a pang of nostalgia and loss when I heard of the paper's recent decision to outsource its printing to another location.
Change can certainly be a good thing. Physical newspapers will probably continue to be phased out. And that will have certain benefits. But there is nothing quite like seeing, hearing, feeling and smelling a product through from start to finish — from the haggard reporter on the phone culling facts, to papers coming off the press to be prepped for delivery, all under one roof.