Thursday, February 07, 2013
Unsullied by the Digital World
Jonathan Thompson, "In a rural Colorado valley, old-fashioned print news lives on
," High Country News
(February 4, 2013):
The Crescent, now in its 134th year, perseveres, unsullied by the digital world: The office has no computer, no Internet. Coombs bangs out each edition on the keyboard of a 90-year-old Linotype, which forges each line of text, or slug, from molten lead. He arranges the slugs, along with ads and graphics -- engraved into wood or metal -- in the chase, a rectangular metal frame. After they're secured into the press, the chase and type are inked, and the newsprint rolls over them. The mailing labels are imprinted by a contraption made back in the 1920s. Like everything else in the office, the labeler -- little more than a small platform with a foot-long lever sticking out -- has the reassuring mechanical heft so often lacking in electronic devices.
It's basically the same technology that Coombs' grandfather, Charles Ogden, used when he bought The Crescent in 1917 (although at first, Ogden lacked a Linotype and had to set type by hand). His daughter, Marie, took over when he died in 1935; Dean stepped in as publisher in 1978, and his mother continued to edit the paper until she passed away in 2002.