The daily collegian. (University Park, Pa.) 1940-current, July 30, 1976, Image 5

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    Notes from the underground
Collegian Copy Editor
It’s easy to go unnoticed at 3 o'clock in
the morning. About that dark hour, five
full-time employes of Collegian Inc.
"■emerge from a small obscure room in the
basement of Carnegie., They are
homeward bound, having just completed
■ a process that six others on the day shift
had begun in the same room 19 hours
earlier. They’ve just macle a morning
£ For the 11 members of the Collegian
production staff, going unnoticed is
nothing new, though it might be a bit
ironic. Their product, The ( Dajly
Collegian, gets a lot of attention. First
period sojourners to Willard regularly
have to avoid tripping over huge bundles
, of Collegians stacked in the lobby there;
kv the potters in the Arts I ceramics room
are always on the hunt for Collegians to
protect their clay work; and every now
and then an issue finds its way into a
waste basket on the higherjeyels of. Old
’Main.' -
So the people who build this thrice
weekly newspaper ought to be observed
I*iow and then to reveal what pains go into
building a waste basket filler. None of the
, eleven, by the way, are the Collegian
< staff writers, whose names are forever
splashed across this sheet. The people in
. this story have nothing to do with news
• reporting; or do they have everything,to
r do with it?
Their jobs, simply stated, make the
Collegian living
newspaper readable. Operating an im
posing array of machines, they make
eye-catching art forms out of ad
vertisements and set thousands of words
of type, turning this into mats, then onto
film plates that are subsequently taken
to the printing press. They do all of this
so that the paper, by 8 a.m. is in Willard,
the HUB, Kern, Pattee and various other
Meg Irish, the 22-year-old production
manager of the shop, explains that the
production is called photo-offset, that is,
a-lot of camera work. Type-setters turn
news stories into computer tapes—great
lengths of inch-wide strips filled with
tiny holes. The holes represent letters
that will eventually become the English
language again.
The tape spools are run through
another machine that does much work in
little time. This hard-working machine
is'called the. Nine Thousand, either
because it does 9,000 different things or
because it’has 9,000 Buttons, keys,’ knobs
and dials. When the Nine Thousand eats
the computer tape, it decodes each hole
to find out what letter is represented. The
Nine Thousand then finds the letter on a
film strip of type a font and snaps a
picture of the letter onto light-sensitive
paper. The machine divides the letters
into words and spaces them so they come
out even-at both the left and right ends of
the lines. It does this at the rate of 60 lines
of type a minute.
Nearly as smart as any English major,
the Nine Thousand even knows enough to
hyphenate words between two con
sonants, though words with four con
sonants in a row somehow baffle the
machine. “The only thing it can’t do,”
Irish says, “is hyphenate Pittsburgh and
Yet another machine is needed to
develop the light-sensitive paper into ad
vertisements, news stories or headlines.
But when that chore is finished, the fun
begins. “Cutting and pasting 502,” Irish
calls it. “A graduate level course.”
Every advertisement, every news Earl Davis, the same cantankerous
story, every headline, by-line, cut-line Collegian columnist, does type copy
and picture must be sized, sliced up with most of the time, but he refuses to
a razor'blade and pasted onto a mat the acknowledge any boredom from the job.
size of a newspaper page. “Everyone has He only admits that “it’s amazing how
cut his finger at least once,” says Pattie sore your arms get.” Davis says that
Pritchett, the night-shift supervisor. typing the copy gives him a chance to
Pattie has cut hers more than. once, read as much as possible while on the
She can be seen at midnight hunched job. “Usually it takes a long time to
over, a mat, razor blade in hand, con- finish something because it gets in
centrating like a surgeon. With her nose.jj.tejjpsting and,l.just-start reading it,” he
about six inches "from her work, she .says. “I can make myself find some
operates on'words. For example, if the thing interesting, but sometimes it’s
word “Oswald” —as in Lee Harvey just wading through an ocean of ver
has somehow, come out of those magic biage. But, Davis adds, “you figure in a
machines as“ Waldo,” she can flick the great span of writing, there’s got to be a
razor blade a couple times, transpose a kernel of good in it.”
letter or two, find an ‘s” from discarded Anne Johnstone, a typesetter as well
copy and become one of the few who as a page builder, disagrees with Davis,
know how Oswald was really put She gets bored. “It’s possible to go into a
together. kind of daze typing a story,” Johnstone
When the mat is finished letter- says. “When I see the paper the next
perfect, it is hoped Steve Auerweck day, it all looks vaguely familiar, but if I
takes over. Auerweck is the cameraman, were quizzed on a particular story that
I’d typed, chances are I wouldn’t have
the slightest idea of its content.”
One of the operators of the Nine
Thousand, Pam Thurston, says one of
the biggest difficulties in typesetting is
, the bad writing given to them by
Collegian writers. “We get a lot of poorly
edited copy down here,” she says.
Thurston'recalls that one time last
term a Collegian sports writer gave a
typesetter a story that was so marked up
with editing directions that he could
hardly read it. The sports writer, she
says, felt so bad that he gave the
typesetter a dollar to type it.
A string of paper dolls hangs in one
corner of the basement shop. The dolls
are simple silhouettes, the kind
scissored out of a single newspaper sheet
that has been folded several times so
that the dolls, when unfolded, look as if
they’re holding hands. Production
manager Irish says the dolls are an in
joke for the day shift.
“They’re the kind of dolls you make in
kindergarten,” Irish says, and then,
joking, “building ads is kindergarten
Whatever kind of work is involved in
building ads, Sandy Fisher and Nancy
Brassington agree that without precision
and without some pride in their work,
the ads can turn out ugly, or worse,'
inaccurate. “It’s not a job for bored
housewives,” Fisher says.
Four members of the day shift of
Collegian, Inc. (left) are at work in
their basement office in Carnegie.
From left to right are Karen Depew-
Michael, Pam Bartoletti, Sandy
Fisher and, in the foreground, pro
duction manager Meg Irish. At right,
Anne Johnstone and Steve Auerweck
of the night shift examine the layout
of what will become a newspaper
but he operates no ordinary camera. It’s
big, nearly big enough to sleep in and big
enough to hold a piece of film the size of a
newspaper page. Auerweck takes a pic
ture of each mai'and gets the film ready
for the printing house.
In addition to camera work, Auerweck
does a little of everything typesetting,
profreading and page-building. His least
favorite of the four tasks? “I wouldn’t be
here,” he says, “if I had to' type copy
Cameraman Steve Auerweck (far
left) has the big camera turned on
him. Earl Davis (top left) reads a
news story before he sets it in type.
Brad Harkness (lower left) composes
an advertisement on the Nine Thou
sand. The second component of the
Nine Thousand is in the background.
At right, night-shift supervisor Pattie
Pritchett proofreads headlines.
A.weekly look at the life
in the University community
Pam Bartoletti ancf Brad Harkness
remember how the omission of a single
letter in an ad a year ago cost the
Collegian a regular advertiser. “It was
the worst mistake I’ve ever seen,”
Bartoletti says, adding that the mistake
was made by a former employe. In issue
after issue of the Collegian, according to
Bartoletti and Harkness, an ad
vertisement' for Joe the Motorist's
Friend had been, in some way, in
correctly built, usually with wrong
prices. The ad, it seems, had become
sort of a nightmare for the production
staff. “We kept doing and doing his ad
wrong, and then doing it wrong again,”
Bartoletti says'. “And nobody wanted to
doit.” . . .. .
But the minor price mistakes in Joe
the Motorist’s Friend ads were all
topped by a major blunder in one issue,
the issue that made Joe an ex-client. In
that issue, Joe the Motorist was called,
not a Friend, but a Fiend. Just last week,
Harkness says, Joe .the Motorist’s
Friend decided to try his luck once again
with the Collegian.
Although the production staff is in no
way responsible for the news and
editorial content of the paper, the rela
tionship by name Collegian some
times proves troublesome.
In April the Collegian rah a story
critical of how the municipality was
getting rid of pigeons. An extermination
company, had been hired to bait the
pigeons with poison. At about the same
time-Irish had called an exterminator
from the same company to get rid of
roaches in her apartment. When he
learned that she worked for the
Collegian, Irish says, he started to scold
her for the newspaper story. Finally, she
says, “he sprayed the whole place and
said there wouldn’t be any more
roaches, but I’ve still got roaches, so I
doubt that they got many pigeons, any
“A problem,” Irish says, “is that
everything the Collegian does is
associated with you.”
Generally, though, the production
staff doesn’t mind being associated with
Photos by Barry Wyshinski
Friday, July 30,1976 —5
the students upstairs. Karen Depew-
Michael says she and the five other
women on day shift worked during Alice
Doesn’t Day—an all women’s strike day
promoted by NOW last October. “The
paper had to get out,” Depew-Michael
■ There is, of course, no reason at all
that the production staff shouldn’t
empathize with students. The staff itself
is heavy with college education,
characteristic of employment
throughout State College. “This is what
happens to all the English majors,”
Thurston says, noting that four of the
staff have bachelor degrees in English.
Also in line with employment in State
College, the production staff has a high
turnover. Irish has worked there the
longest four years.
Irish, who has worked for the
Doubleday publishing house, is one of
the few women production managers on
newspapers. At a National Typesetting
convention in Harrisburg recently, there
was Irish, one other woman and about
100 men.
“This is the only job I know that can
give you an ulcer and bore you to death
at the same time,” Irish says.' “When
I’m 30, I’ll look 60, and then I’ll be in
trouble because there’s no retirement
plan at the Collegian.”
Both Irish and night supervisor
Pritchett have to worry about deadlines.
If the newspaper page negatives are not
delivered to Himes Printing Co. by 3
a.m., Collegian Inc. is charged extra for
the delay.
So when it’s after 2 a.m. and Pritchett
still has a page or two to be built,
precision must sometimes be traded for
time. ‘,‘We know we’re not perfect,’ 1
Pritchett says. “You can have two or
three people go over a story and you
might still get a mistake. ’ ’
And who wants mistakes? Certainly
not the Collegian production staff.
Mistakes might make their work
noticeable, and they’ve been doing fine
without being detected. “We care for the
paper very, very much,” Pritchett says,
‘even though our names are not on it.”