Local paper breeds legends of the trade
A CAREER start in newspapers looked very different in the fifties, according to retired compositors Graham Gillam and Ron Bryant.
Both starting their journeys at the Daily News as teenagers, the press employees began as message boys before graduating to apprenticeships.
“I left school when I was 15 on Monday at 3pm went up to interview and started at the Daily News at 8am on Tuesday morning,” Mr Gillam said.
“I didn’t even tell the school I’d left until six weeks later when they started making inquiries about why I hadn’t turned up to school and the boss told me to go down and tell them I’d left.”
“I was already signed up as an apprentice by then.”
Mr Bryant started his journey at the Daily News at 14 in 1952 and by the time he’d retired in 2002, he was the longest serving Daily News employee ever.
“I liked my job, I really did,” he said.
“When we changed over to computerised type setting I just loved the computerisation.”
The compositors were responsible for putting the pages together by hand before it was all done on computer programs.
The retirees said they’ve seen a lot of change over the years, learning five new systems.
“The hot press my favourite, every one was a new challenge in itself” Mr Gillam said.
“One of the most memorable moments was during the worst floods in 1976, we were under two feet of water at the Albion St building.
“We sitting on the bloody reels and they were busting underneath us with water, we were waiting for the water to go down so we could clean the place out.
“We missed publication that night because the press had to be dried out and we had big electric heaters all over the place.”
But Mr Bryant said he was happy to embrace new technologies.
“Would you believe when things were first computerised we didn’t have a screen but it was good to go home with no ink on your hands,” he said.
“I saw a lot of change, I worked with over 350 people in my lifetime there and a lot of other people have fond memories of starting their working life there on the journalist side of things as well,” he said.
“They’re a part of history, too right they are, I’ve read every one twice over,” Mr Gillam said.
The paper’s print may be ending but the extensive local coverage won’t be.
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