Ink in the blood, Part 3

                                                                                                                                        Photo submitted
Rex Spencer is running the old 1910 press at The Licking News when located at the old Hamilton building. “Looking Back Lou,” an historical columnist, commented, “There was no ladder to get the archive boxes down.” They were located on the overhead shelving.
By Christy Porter
Managing Editor

Progress and safety evolved at The Licking News from hot and handset type to typewriters, justified strike on image, photo setters to computers. Photography evolved from in-house zinc engravings to 4 x 5 negative, cameras with darkroom to digital cameras with photos downloaded onto computers. Internet and computers replaced mail and personal newsgathering. The Licking News was always innovative in regards to the newest technology used in press publication.
Collecting the news: From the beginning of newspapers, the postal service was depended on to get the news to you. Later the telephone was another option. For many of the stories, the reporter went to the news source and talked face to face. According to the Derricksons, “Lots of people would write what we called ‘news items’ and bring them to us. We also had country correspondents that would write articles about their neighborhoods and mail or bring them to us. These correspondents in 1952 included the communities of Hazelton, Coulstone, Oscar and Kinderpost. That’s how we would know who enjoyed Sunday dinner with friends and family or if the kids came to visit.”
County news—including land transfers, sheriff reports, town hall meetings and such—was collected by going to the courthouse, law offices or appropriate agencies, writing the information down, and bringing it back to the newspaper office. School news was easier, according to Glenna. The superintendent’s and principals’ offices were close in proximity. Nationwide and state news was delivered in the mail. All news content had to be edited, just as it still is today.
News Importance: “Country correspondence news, deaths, accidents, engagements, weddings, family reunions, local news items, club news, city news and county news were important in the early years. School news was also at the top of the list. If a picture were put in the paper with the school news, it was a sure sellout of papers. In later years, it got harder to get country correspondence and local news items. Everyone wanted to read these and make their comments but didn’t want their names in the articles. This made reporting harder to accomplish,” said Glenna Derrickson. Every article was edited, which oftentimes was not easy. Accuracy was very important, as it still is today.

                                            Photos by Christy Porter
Photography and engraving from The Licking News.

Photography: A darkroom was added at The Licking News in the 1950s. Prior to this addition, if a picture was printed, it was first sent to a company that made engravings. Around the same time the darkroom was added, The Licking News also acquired an engraver. Onsite, they could now take a picture, develop the film and make a zinc engraving. It was done this way until computerization was used. Initially with the use of computers, it was still necessary to develop the film. The negative would be scanned, which digitalized the picture for paste up. The Licking News had a vertical camera to make negatives to print from. It used full newspaper page-sized film. School students nicknamed Gene “The Picture Man,” and Glenna was known as “Mom.”
    Photo submitted
A Linotype machine.
Typesetting: Type was handset and later a Linotype was added to set smaller type. Linotypes used melted lead to form one line of type at a time. Licking had two linotypes. This typesetting was called hot type. Lines of print were set upside-down and backwards to print correctly on the paper. Gas flame kept the lead melted. Says Glenna, “It was really fascinating to watch an experienced typesetter create galleys from the drawers of typeset letters. He would talk and continue to work. There were different drawers with different fonts, including California type case. The page forms had no bottom, so the typeset, containing thousands of pieces of metal slugs, single letters of type, had to be tightened into the page form. If dropped before being tightened, you would have ‘printer’s pie.’”
In 1961, Licking added two IBM proportionate spacing typewriters. These were utilized by typing a line of words, tabbing over and typing the same line, adding spaces to make even right-hand margins. Typesetters not only had to know keyboarding but also had to know how many spaces each character would take. Notice the difference between “i” and “w.” The end result would be the same as the much easier justification function in your word-processing programs today.
Next, Licking would add Justo writers. They punched a tape that you then fed into a machine that read the code and printed the type, justifying the right-hand margins, making paragraphs, etc.
In the 1970s, Compugraphic typesetting machines were added. Typesetters keyboarded the copy into the machine and it justified the lines. It used fonts of type and exposed the copy on a coated paper that printed out the type when run through chemicals. This was comparable to a darkroom procedure processing pictures except that it was a motorized machine doing the processing.
“We could print up to 18-point type (font) on these machines, changing the hand-set ads having smaller type,” says Glenna Derrickson. “A headliner machine was also added, allowing us to set large type for ads and headlines about this same time.”
Computers, scanners and email were added in the early 1990s, making collection and processing of data quicker and more efficient.
                                                                     Photo submitted
The second Van Press printer used by The Licking News.
 The press was located at the Houston Republican
Rex Spencer is on the left.
 Printing: From the beginning of The Licking News in the 1800s until 1961, the newspaper was printed onsite on a hand-fed two-page press. In the early 1960s, it became more practical to print newspapers by offset printing. Due to the cost of offset newspaper presses, small-town newspapers couldn’t afford a press at their home site, so four publishers—West Plains, Willow Springs, Houston and Licking—formed a cooperation called Van Press. Together, they bought a press and located it at the Houston newspaper, a more centralized location. Each publication had a scheduled time to print its paper. One pressman with a helper operated the press. It was a cost efficient and timely solution for everyone.
Van Press was established in 1961 and was the first group to share printing in Missouri. Today, sharing printing capabilities has evolved back into a cost-effective and timely solution for many small-town newspapers, such as The Licking News.
A fire ravaged the newspaper in 1910 and everything was lost. As a result, new equipment was purchased at that time. A hand-cranked paper cutter was shipped to Rolla and brought by horse and wagon to Licking, an event that was reported in The Licking News. It was still being used by the Derricksons. This old cutter caused numerous injuries. Gene’s mother, Esther, sliced a finger on the cutter, requiring many stitches. His son, Eric, also mashed a thumb off while Gene was cutting, simply by setting his hand in the wrong place.
The small town newspaper is still a viable resource for news, especially in rural areas. Staffs remain small and employees still wear many hats. They publish as economically as possible and still oftentimes supplement income with printing services. The above pieces and aspects of publishing a weekly paper remain the same; they are only done differently.
The Licking News remains committed to publishing a great paper, with news items that are pertinent and informative for our community.
                                                               Photo by Christy Porter
The shelving that held printers’ typeset and tools of the trade.



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