Ever Been To The Register?

Publishing a newspaper is still a dirty, noisy job with little that is anything less than immense.

Ever Been To The Register? That was the subject of an email received last night from Tom Powers. Tom often comments on the blog and we’ve run into each other over the years. He works at the New Haven Register, keeping its mechanical plant working.


I would guess if you are anything like me you want to go home after work. But, I have to go back to the Register late tonight as we are starting some new equipment that puts those little sticky notes on the front of the paper.

If you are up to it and have never seen the insides of the paper, the press run starts at around midnight. I hope to be out by 1 or 2.

This is the kind of invitation I can’t resist. If 50 years younger, I would have been the right kid to give that DVD with nothing but construction equipment at work!

I showed up just before midnight and Tom began to take me around. I’d been to the Register before a few times. When I first visited, the paper was being put together with the help of X-ACTO blades and paste.

I’ve written before about print journalism and my undying love for it. We really do need newspapers, or at least someone to do what newspapers do (the Internet does not). Every day newspapers print some things that interest a tiny percentage of their readers–a handful of people. It’s important to document these little bits of minutiae, though most readers simply turn the page and go on.

Last night’s trip was more about mechanics than journalism. Publishing a newspaper is still a dirty, noisy job with every piece of gear immense. The colored ink comes in cylindrical man sized tubs. The black ink is stored in a silo. Rolls of paper, handled by forklifts with mechanical pincers, are piled high in a warehouse. They are transported to the presses with a sub-floor railway in much the same way your car is pulled through the car wash.

It’s all done with machinery that seems “antique technomodern.” Just like those 1930s movies, spools of paper unwind into the presses while fully assembled newspapers fly overhead in a mechanized march to the delivery trucks.

Tom’s installation worked well. This morning’s newspaper was delivered with a little sticker affixed to the front page.