Sunday, August 22, 2021

When we used to take little league scores over the phone for the next day's newspaper

I often bring this up on Aug. 22nd because it was such an important milestone in my career progression, but today is the 33rd anniversary of my first day working in The News-Herald sports department.

The News-Herald is our local daily newspaper. I was 18 years old the first time I walked into the newsroom in what is now referred to as "the old building" on Mentor Avenue. In 1994, when I had become a full-time staff sports writer, we moved into newer digs a little further down the street and behind the old site.

There was a certain smell that hit you the minute you walked into that place, and I will never forget the first time I experienced it. I couldn't nail down exactly what it was, but I always assumed it was the smell of ink and whatever chemicals they used to print the paper every night.

To me, it was a smell that meant I got to play some part in putting out that paper. And it was exciting.

I started at The News-Herald as a college freshman sports agate clerk, taking the results of local community and scholastic sporting events over the phone and typing them into the computer system for inclusion in the following day's sports section. We also wrote up little briefs/articles.

Later I began covering games and writing columns under my very own byline. I never, ever got tired of seeing my name in that paper, even though it had become somewhat old hat after a year or two.

All told, I spent eight years in the newspaper business before moving on to technical writing and later corporate communications. Those were formative years for me in a number of ways. I developed and honed skills that continue to serve me well even now.

Until recently, I had three print newspapers delivered to my house every day. But now I've stopped home print delivery in favor of digital subscriptions, as that's the way the industry is going anyway. Print isn't quite yet dead, but it does have one foot in the proverbial grave.

Maybe the thrill is the same for young people doing online journalism today, but I can't believe there's anything really like the feeling of writing a story, editing copy, and laying out pages for a paper that comes out hours later and is distributed to thousands of your neighbors.

It was exhilarating. It really was.

And now we've all moved on. Progress, I suppose.

But 33 years ago, it was all about that newsprint. I loved every minute I was a part of the process.


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