160 Years of printing, here's how it's done

THE newsroom at The Daily Examiner today is a far cry from the printing shop where the first locally produced issues of the paper were put together.

From the beginning

WHEN the newspaper began as the Clarence and Richmond Examiner, the entire newspaper had to be handset.

Typesetters and compositors laboured over each individual letter, working with the flatbed press to create stories.

There were practically no roads when the Clarence and Richmond Examiner began on June 21, 1859.

Outside news had to come by boat. Local copy was gathered in any way possible, but mainly on foot.

Settlers along the river used boats. They pulled their way to their neighbours by boat, pulled themselves to church and were pulled by others when their days were done.

Reporters had to be rowed across the river, with their horse swimming behind.

The Examiner was first a weekly because there was only one mail a week by boat. Then came two mails a week and a bi-weekly publication.

In 1890, Grafton got a daily mail service by coach from Glen Innes when the railways reached that town. This was improved many years later when Grafton was linked north by its own rail.

Living in the '50s

JOHN Kenny looks back fondly on his early days as an apprentice at The Daily Examiner in 1951.

The hours were long, and late, but the linotype operator said working into the early hours was just what you did to get the paper out.

"To put a newspaper out, it's a challenge every day. Once you get today's paper out you go, 'S--t that's good'. But tomorrow you've got to get ready for another one," he said.

When Mr Kenny started in the office, the entire newspaper was still handset on a flatbed press and as a youngster it was his job to do the "dirty work".

"The newspaper was all lead in those days. When those pages were proofed then they went on the flatbed press," he said.

"Each morning you had to strip the pages, they came off the press and had ink all over them, you had to wash all that off.

"They were thrown into a big bucket and that went out the back and had to be melted down into ingot to use again."


NEWSROOM ESSENTIALS: An old type writer and wooden presses used to put out the paper in the early 1900s.
NEWSROOM ESSENTIALS: An old type writer and wooden presses used to put out the paper in the early 1900s. Contributed

Towards tabloid

IN HIS career of half a century, Mr Kenny has seen more change in his industry than the 100 years before him.

The original flatbed press gave way to a modern alternative in the mid-1970s, when the paper turned tabloid.

Hot metal went out and QWERTY keyboards and a new style called 'paste up' came in.

Mr Kenny remembers visiting the then mayor's wife MrsEmerson to learn to use the new tech - a far cry from the linotype keyboard.

By the end of the decade The Daily Examiner moved to a Victoria St office and the printing process took another step forward.

"We would input the stories on floppy disks. We used to have the disks in a box. You'd finish one and just get something else," he said.

"We started to input the photos too. I think it was easier inputting stories on the computer."

Each issue was entirely prepared and compiled in the Grafton office and the master pages trucked to Lismore each night, published and returned for pre-breakfast delivery.

The digital age

Mr Kenny was one of the last employees typesetting at Grafton when he left in 2002.

Nearly two decades later, getting the newspaper to print has gone entirely digital.

Journalists work with designers to create each page on the computer. Stories and photos are dragged and dropped.

Once each page has been thoroughly checked, it is typeset by the click of the mouse to be printed in Queensland.

IN COURT: 15 people to face Maclean court today

Premium Content IN COURT: 15 people to face Maclean court today

Find out who's appearing in Maclean criminal court today

New look, new sound Clarence Valley Australia Day

Premium Content New look, new sound Clarence Valley Australia Day

Councillor declines nomination over “inappropriate” date

Blooming jacarandas provide boost for Grafton businesses

Premium Content Blooming jacarandas provide boost for Grafton businesses

After COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the annual Jacaranda Festival, many...