My first encounter with a newsroom

Daily News Papersphoto © 2008 Fang Guo | more info (via: WylioWhile at my Salinas Californian newspaper internship yesterday, we were visited by school kids taking a tour of the building.

“This is where our reporters work,” said the tour guide, as she walked by me.

It brought back flashbacks of my first visit to a newspaper, back when I was in middle school.

I’d just started 7th grade, and my school had a program with The Times of India, a major English-language newspaper based in Delhi. As part of the program, we were given newspapers in class, and had someone from the paper talk to us once a week. It was a lot of fun, although I was already an avid newspaper reader. But the program did help classmates who otherwise wouldn’t have read the newspaper.

I have to point out that this was way back in the early ‘90s in India, several years before anyone I knew had internet access. Newspapers and the evening TV news were my two main sources to find out about what was going on in the world.

So getting a behind-the-scenes look at the newspaper was a pretty big deal…as far as I was concerned, it was this mysterious entity that somehow found out all this information and reported it to me, and kept me in touch with the rest of the world on a daily basis. I had no idea how newspapers managed all of that, it was kind of mind-boggling.

I was excited when we finally got to visit the actual newspaper, and I got an inside look. I’m sure it’s changed by now, but back then it still had this old-school feel to it, kind of like how newsrooms are like in old movies. Of course, they’d already upgraded from typewriters to basic computers and dot-matrix printers. But most things were still done on paper, and I remember lots of files and documents cluttering everything.

The newsroom itself had this constant buzz of activity, not unlike what I’m experiencing at my internship. Although with newspaper layoffs, people are probably even busier these days.

And the information gathering itself must have been so different, with no internet (and no Google!) I remember being shown Telex machines, and being told that they also occasionally received news releases by fax.

They also were many years away from switching to the all-digital publishing systems that are commonplace today, so stories were physically ‘cut to fit’, and proofs were taken to the printers, and finally we saw the printing presses churning out papers.

I just remember looking at all of this activity as an awe-struck 11-year old. Of course, at the time I would never have imagined that I’d actually get to work in a newsroom someday.

But seeing the school kids walking by today just brought on a wave of nostalgia, as I think about how much both newsrooms and I have changed since our first encounter.

Does anyone else have memories of visiting a newsroom as a kid?

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