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Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Claresholm Local Press

Back in 2002 I travelled through Claresholm to visit my old friend from the University of Alberta, Rob Vogt. Rob and I lived on the same floor  at Lister Hall (Main Kelsey, to be exact) for a couple of years; I'm still waiting for his promised book about residence life during those years.

Claresholm is a cool little place, a small town straddling Highway 2, about halfway between Calgary and Lethbridge, and I popped in to visit Rob at the Claresholm Local Press, where he worked as a reporter. (Rob has since become the paper's editor.) The paper is as old as Alberta itself, with a long, rich history.

I couldn't stay for long, but Rob was kind enough to show me around the office. I was awestruck by this gorgeous old printing press.

Local papers are a vital source of information and cohesion for small communities. Rob's story here on provincial budget cuts to education illustrates how decisions made in the provincial capital impact people hundreds of kilometres distant.

The Internet is challenging print media of all kinds, from magazines to books to newspapers. Even small community papers like the Claresholm Local Press have an online presence now, and perhaps the decline of printed reading material is inevitable. I'll be sad when that day arrives. Although I love the convenience and portability of the Internet, I don't think I'll ever lose my love of paper and ink.


Garrett Wiwcharuk said...

I worked in production as graphic designer & layout artist for both of Thompson, MB's newspapers for several years and loved the daily challenges amongst the news.
In the back, we had a HUGE, old print press that was built once forklifted into the building. Similar to the office described in your post, the equipment was most likely as old as Thompson itself.
They were looking to get rid of it when I was still there (I bet my goose they still are), but none displayed further commitment to haul it out - though it would draw onlookers attention. Would be a great addition to the local museum, only there's no room for such a behemoth.

It's comforting to know newsprint is still alive amongst the ever-changing, upgradable world of iPads, Kindels, downloadable PDFs and Whatchya-ma-call-its. :)

"The Paradise Jeffdrome" said...

I too worked for a short time in layout and design for a small town paper. We used actual cutters and paste for ink-and-paste operationms, although the paper did have two MacIntoshes (which you could hard crash by asking to divide by zero) and a flatbed scanner. We didn't have our own press, that was done by another outfit.

While it's nice to be nostalgic about the old printers, they weren't safe. Apart from a league of heavy moving parts that could grab you at any time and pull you into the works, the ink was highly toxic and the plates emitted bits of lead that could be inhaled. Earl's photocopier would be a beautiful trip to the Suzuki Foundation by comparison. Not only would the thing require extremely heavy lifting to be brought to a museum, it would also have to be cleaned by a team that was working under hazmat protocols.

The paper I worked for got bought out by a country and western music station not long after I joined, and I was out of a job when they stopped the presses for good. The other local paper (yes, there were two!) got bought out by the octopus-like BlackPress, which I consider the nadir of independent news reporting. Unless, of course, you prefer you local news vetted for you courtesy of the paunches in suits living in Victoria.

Although I appreciate the experience of getting to work on a newspaper, I don't consider these happy memories in the end, more of a life lesson on how big business beats up on the little guy. If you choose to bring up the topic of animation schools tomorrow, I can also lecture on my life lessons about how big labour and union tactics also beat up on the little guy.

Sorry to be a downer on this topic. Nothing can stay the same forever, so something or someone has to be shuffled out of the deck sooner or later. The big wheel of life never stops turning.

Earl J. Woods said...

I'll bet you saw some pretty crazy stories come across your desk, Garrett! Life up north was rarely dull, at least as I remember it. Nice to hear about your experiences too, Jeff. Closest I ever came to old-timey printing was during high school, when I was a member of the Newspaper club and the Yearbook club.

Liam J. said...

I haven't seen Rob Vogt in a long time. Since we played hockey out in Leduc and you took all those pictures, I think, Earl.

Earl J. Woods said...

That was the last time I saw Rob as well. Fun guy with a lot of talent!