Athens Review, Athens, Texas


August 17, 2012

Working at the Houston Chronicle a learning experience

Athens — A lot of journalism-inclined  people would not dare apply for a job at a metropolitan newspaper.  They have watched television shows, like the old Lou Grant series, and they think there’s a lot of late-night work, and a lot of danger as they get close to crime and fire.

Sometimes there is a lot of that.  But, they also do have those elements from time-to-time at smaller dailies and weeklies.

The metropolitan newspaper in which I once worked was the Houston Chronicle.  It was in 1968, and I was 19, and working on a BA from University of Houston.

The name of the paper was the Houston Chronicle.  That point-in-time was before the competition it realized from the Houston Post, another metrodaily in the city, ended when the Post went out of business.

Back then, the Chronicle building constructed in 1927, had its editorial department of the on the third floor of its 10 stories.  It had tile flooring on the ground floor, and a gift shop.  There was a framed  directory on the wall of the lobby, telling you which floor there was for the departments of circulation, editorial, advertising, classified and file books.  It was open 24-hours a day.

Interestingly, in a nation, which today demands strict security, especially after 9-11, at that time, there was only a guard stationed at a desk 24 hours to get you to sign the register.

There was no questions, like, “What do you want to do here?”  You just signed in and took the elevator up.

During the daytime, the Chronicle saw fit to put human elevator operators on board each of the elevators.  They sat on a foldout seat on that vehicle, and asked you what floor was it you wanted.  Then, they pressed the same buttons we press when we get on such a device today.

After going to the proper floor for editorial (or any other department), the elevator door would open.  It would reveal the life back then, as we believed was “modern.”

In the editorial department, where I was a copyboy, there were about 10 or 15 desks where reporters worked.

There was also a desk in the middle, where the managing editor sat, and yelled orders.

At each desk, there was either an IBM Selectric electric typewriter, or one of those that were used before electricity.

Computers were not used in the newsroom, or any other department at that time, but there was a room set up on another part of the floor that was used in planning the anticipated conversion.

In that big newsroom, there was also a soundproof glass room where there were teletype machines.  This room contained machines from Associated Press and United Press International, along with some other news agencies.

Part of my job was to rip the paper off those machines in the proper position, and put it in a basket on the managing editor’s desk.  He (always “he,” and not “she” at that time), would mark it up, and send it in a vacuum tube to production on another floor.

That in turn, would be typeset, laid out, and put into a form of  a page that could be photographed in preparation for making a press plate.

That is one of the biggest changes in newpaper operations today, with the advent of computers.  Whereas, it used to take 10 or more people from the beginning of the production of a newspaper, today, the person sitting at the computer does just about everything done in news production. 

The editor now usually imports the ads, lays out the editorial content around the ads, and then sends the laid-out page directly to the printer, so that “plates” can be photographed and placed on the press.

Editors do not take a pen and mark up pages, and let others set the type and lay them out anymore.

The Chronicle experience taught me a lot.  But, not nearly as much as experience with the hands-on smaller papers.

I so love to work with small dailies and weeklies.  It’s a great experience.

As for the Chronicle, I revisited  about 15 years ago, and saw the changes.

First of all, the building was completely remodeled in the 1980s.  But, the real change was in the incredible amount of security in the lobby area, and the difficulty in getting to the upper floors.  It’s an absolute madhouse of activity.

Newspapers, like everything else, has experienced change.

Jeff Riggs is the Editor of the Athens Daily Review.

Text Only
  • Wilson mug.JPG Rolling into something new

    She did it.
    My baby girl rolled over for the first time this past week while daddy and mommy were watching closely.
    As other major news broke across the county, watching my baby roll over for the first time was by far the biggest news of the week for me. Odd.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Joe new mug.jpg Fanfare is a time to prepare for another season

    I love to see the talent our student athletes have across Henderson County. To know that each player puts in the blood, sweat and tears to play for a district championship and hopefully a state title is something special to see.
    Another great in the world of sports is a player who is retiring this season in New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.
    Jeter once said, “There may be people who have more talent than you, but there's no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do — and I believe that.”

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • kathi New  copy.jpeg The greatest country in the world has hungry children

    No child should go hungry. We are the greatest country in the world, yet we have hungry children.
    An article I recently read said that if a child in school can't afford lunch, they will be given a sandwich and water. I was told the sandwich is cheese between two pieces of bread.
    I hope everyone realizes that is what they serve in the county jail. Not that I know this from personal experience. I was told from someone who did know from experience.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wilson mug.JPG Hakuna Matata, what a wonderful phrase

    Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase.
    Hakuna Matata! Ain't no passing craze.
    It means no worries for the rest of your days.
    It's our problem-free philosophy.
    Hakuna Matata!
    Congratulations, if you have watched the Lion King a couple of times you now have this song stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jeff's mug.jpg It was a week in the depth of heat, then cooler

    Sunday and Monday of this week have been very uncomfortable.  The air conditioner at our house has been down, and the temperature outside and in the house have been way up.
    Thank God for the blessing of the cool temperatures and the rain that fell on Tuesday, then on Wednesday.  It changed things just a little bit.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Time away is necessary for everyone

    I can remember as a kid writing essays on “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.” As the years pass, and we are more in-tune with the workplace, those vacations get shorter and shorter.
    Do you ever have those days  when you just need a vacation? Sometimes you just need to get away.
    Taking time off work should be fun and rejuvenating. We all need a recharge every now and then. But vacations aren't what they use to be. We rarely disconnect ourselves from our jobs.

    July 12, 2014

  • Joe new mug.jpg Student athletes: Time to wake up and get to work

    Hey student athletes, it is about time for you to wake up and get to work.
    Your summer is coming to an end, and the early morning wake up calls for practices are right around the corner.
    I am talking to the football players, volleyball players, cross country kids, band members, drill team members and cheerleaders.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wilson mug.JPG Remember who you are

    Are you running so fast that you have forgotten why you started the race in the first place?
    Life moving at a blistering pace that it is tough to keep up?
    Maybe it is time to stop, take a deep look into the pool of water and remember. Remember who you are.
    On numerous occasions, I have had to do just that. Ironically, various movies have caused me to look inside.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jeff's mug.jpg CSUMC provided a memorable experience

    My wife Jean and I went to a very interesting, and what I consider a very unique event last Saturday night.
    I had heard that the church where we are members, Carroll Springs United Methodist Church, was having an event in which people sitting in the audience would sing their favorite hymns into a microphone.

    July 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rich mug.jpg Independence ultimately won on battlefield

    I always enjoy celebrating Independence Day, and hearing some of the stirring words written in the Declaration of Independence.
    Thomas Jefferson wrote that our Creator has given us certain rights, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The way I see it, if I have life and liberty, that gives me a pretty good start on the third one.
    But as eloquent as our founding fathers were, and how moving the texts they left behind, one fact can’t be overlooked. Our independence was ultimately won and secured on the battlefield.

    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

Biz Marquee
AP Video
Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Palestinians and Israeli Soldiers Clash Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive