August 31, 2011 Edition

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Accepting change
is easier than not

John Bland
Publisher

In speaking to the Lawrence County Rotary Club Tuesday, I talked about changes that have occurred in my lifetime at The TD.

When I was a young boy in the late 60s, we still had a letterpress that used raised type set on the Linotype machines. On paper day, the press rocked the whole building, which was then located at 110 West Main.

In 1971, we converted from hot metal type to offset printing. That's also when we started having The TD printed elsewhere. Presses are very expensive, and you either need to be in the business of printing other newspapers or pay another company to do that.

We bought the old Post Office building in 1978, and I graduated from the U. of A. with a journalism degree in 1980. At that time, reporters still used typewriters, and we had typesetters who would convert the stories, using a computer, to columns of type for the newspaper.

We purchased some very expensive computer equipment in the early 1980s that was supposed to be the most advanced equipment we'd ever need. That equipment only lasted about 12 years before it was completely out-of-date.

Around 1994, we converted to desktop publishing, with user-friendly Apple Macs, and have been upgrading those computers ever since.

*********

In the 1990s, we first began using the Internet mainly for e-mail. That started slowly but has, for several years, been the primary way that we receive most of our news and photo submissions.

Around 2000, we switched from film photography to digital photography. This has saved countless hours in the darkroom.

For over 10 years, we've had a free website that contains news highlights. Later, we added a full online edition for paid users. Newspapers continue to debate whether to have paid or free websites. We currently have 77 online-only subscribers.

Like many businesses, The TD also has a Facebook page. At a recent press convention, some newspaper reporters said they find that using Facebook is often the quickest way to get a response from news sources. You can also follow us on Twitter, and we use QR (quick response) codes to link you to our website, classifieds or to our Facebook page.

Other newspaper trends are to create niche publications and to use QR codes to hear newspaper stories read over smart phones. Newspapers are also using video and adapting their websites for use by mobile phones.

*********

At Rotary, I showed several historic front pages. One of them was the 1964 story and photos of The Beatles visit to the Walnut Ridge Airport. Another was of our coverage of the 9-11 terrorists attacks. Those events will be remembered again with the upcoming 10th anniversary of 9-11 and the unveiling of The Beatles sculpture set for Sept. 18.

*********

I never could have imagined how much our way of doing things at The TD has changed, and I admit that I don't know what the future holds.

However, I am thankful for our technology-minded and forward-thinking staff. Instead of dragging my heels at the thought of change, I've learned it's much better to let go and accept it.

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