Digital Transition

My profession takes many forms from news reporting to writing in a diary.

The image of a journalist has changed from a man in trench coat and fedora with “Press” in his hatband, to a chic woman in sundress with microphone in hand.

I am a journalist, which is the job of writing things down – journalling. I have worked at writing jobs, and I have been a freelancer.

I lived through the transition of field reporting from pen and pad for scribbling notes, to handheld cell phones with small keypads.

Some of my older colleagues did not survive the change, choosing early retirement instead.

In early days before digitalization, the atmosphere of a newsroom was exciting with the hustle and bustle of a breaking story brought back to the office in a notepad to be typed out on copy paper with an Underwood. Close to deadline you had to hurry when the city editor called out:

“Hurry up!”

Your story was edited and, still on copy paper, was sent in a vacuum tube to the composing room downstairs where a typesetter took over.

Setting up the copy paper in front of him, he typed your story on a bulky keypad with letters arranged just like on a typewriter. Words became hot lead slugs, a column wide, spewed out of the upper front of the linotype. The slugs, in turn, were screwed into a steel frame the size of a newspaper page. If your story was important it made the front page with your byline.

Today reporters stay on the scene, like at an accident, and type their story into a cell phone, sending it directly to the editors’ rim in the newsroom. From there it makes its electronic way into that day’s edition.

I was lucky. Even though I was married and had three daughters, I was young enough to go along with the digital change. I learned about old DOS (Disc Operating System) and taught my girls what I knew. Today they have left me in the dust with the work they do on fancy Big Mac computers.

You used to get news in the paper and on radio and television, but today you go online with social media apps like Facebook where the authenticity of stories is often questionable.

I’m in the digital age, but I still write in my diary with a ballpoint pen.

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