The Mechanical Department

=19. Division

Beyond the editorial rooms is the mechanical

department, with which every reporter should be, but rarely ever is,

acquainted. Because of the heavy machinery necessary for preparing and

printing a paper, the mechanical department is often found in the

basement. This department is divisible into three sub-departments, the

composing room, the stereotyping room, and the press room.

=20. The Copy Cutter

When a story has been revised by the copy reader

and given proper headlines, it is turned over to the head copy reader or

the news editor, who glances over it hastily to see that all is rightly

done and chutes it in a pneumatic tube to the basket on the copy

cutter's table or desk in the composing room. The copy cutter in turn

glances at the headlines and the two or three pages of copy, and records

the story upon a ruled blank on his desk. Then he clips the headlines

and sends them by a copy distributor to the headline machine to be set

up. The two or three pages of copy he cuts into three or four or five

"takes," puts the slug number or name on each, and sends the "takes" to

different compositors, so that the whole story may be set up more

quickly than if it were given all to one man. If the time before going

to press is very short, the pages may be cut into more takes. The slug

names, sometimes called guide or catch lines, are marked on each take to

enable the bank-men to assemble readily all the parts after they have

been set in type.

=21. The Linotype Machine

Each compositor on receiving his take

places it on the copy-holder of his linotype or monotype machine and

begins composing it into type. The linotype machine consists of a

keyboard not unlike that of the typewriter, which actuates a magazine

containing matrices or countersunk letter molds, together with a casting

mechanism for producing lines or bars of words. By touching the keys,

the compositor releases letter by letter an entire line of matrices,

which are mustered automatically into the assembling-stick at the left

and above the keyboard, ready to be molded into a line of type. When the

assembling-stick is full of matrices, enough to make a full line, the

operator is warned, as on the typewriter, by the ringing of a tiny bell.

The machinist then pulls a lever, which releases molten lead on the line

of matrices and casts a slug of metal representing the letters he has

just touched on the keys. The machine cuts and trims this slug of lead

to an exact size, conveys it to the receiving galley for finished lines,

and returns the matrices to their proper places in the magazine for use

in a succeeding line. When the operator has composed twenty or

twenty-five of these slugs, his take is completed. He then removes the

slugs from their holder, wraps them in the manuscript, and sends them to

the bank to be assembled with the other takes of the same story. The

proof of the compositor's take looks something like the matter at the

top of the next page.

The big three's are the compositor's slug number. This take was set up

by the workman operating machine number 3. The Loops is the catch

line, or slug name, by which the story is known, every take of the story

being named Loops, so that the bank-men may easily get the parts of

the story together. The letters at the right of Loops, in the same

line, are merely any letters that the compositor has set up at random by

tapping the linotype keys to fill out the line.




LOOPS... ... ... ...) rna..8an........



San Diego, Cal., Sept. 25.--Sergt. William Ocher and Corporal

Albert Smith, attached to the United States army aviation corps

at North Island, made fifteen loops each while engaged in

flights, shattering army and navy aviation records. Both

officers used the same machine equipped with a ninety horsepower

motor, and designed for long distance flying.

This take, which was picked up at random in the editorial rooms of the

Milwaukee Journal, was followed by this:




Folo Loops........................ETAOIN


Omaha, Sept. 25.--Francis Hoover, Chicago aviator, fell 1,000

feet at David City, Neb. He alighted in a big tank and was not


The compositor in this case was at machine number 7, and the slug name

given the story was Folo Loops: that is, it was a follow story, to

come after the one slugged Loops.

=22. The Proofs

On receipt of the different takes by the bank-man,

the various parts of the story are assembled, with the proper head, in a

long brass receptacle called a galley, and the first, or galley, proof

is "pulled" on the proof press, a small hand machine. Three proofs are

made. One goes to the managing editor, on whom rests responsibility for

every story in the paper; one to the news editor; and one, with the

original copy, to the head proofreader, who is responsible for all

typographical errors. The head proofreader in turn gives the proof to an

assistant and the manuscript to a copyholder, who reads the story to the

assistant for the detection of typographical errors. A corrected galley

proof will be returned in the form shown in the specimen proof sheet

printed on page 276.

=23. The Form

After all corrections have been made and the position

of the story in the paper has been determined by the news editor, it is

inserted in its proper place among other articles which together make up

a page of type, or what printers know as a form. This form is locked in

an enveloping steel frame, called a chase, and carried to the

stereotyping room, the second department in the mechanical composition

of the paper. In the small newspaper offices, the sheet is printed

directly from the form. But since the leaden letters begin to blur after

15,000 impressions have been made, and since it has been found

impossible to do fast printing from flat surfaces, it is necessary for

the larger papers to cast from four to twelve stereotyped plates of each


=24. Stereotyping Process

These stereotyped plates are circular or

semicircular in shape, so that they fit snugly on the press cylinders.

They are made in the following way: When the form is brought into the

stereotyping room, it is placed, face up, on the flat bed of a strongly

built press. Over the face of the columns of type are spread several

layers of tissue paper pasted together. Upon the paper is laid a damp

blanket, and a heavy revolving steel drum subjects the whole to hundreds

of pounds of pressure, thus squeezing the face of the type into the

texture of the moist paper. Intense heat is then applied by a steam

drier, so that within a few seconds the moisture has been baked entirely

from the paper, which emerges a stiff flat matrix of the type in the


=25. The Autoplate

This matrix in turn is bent to the shape of the

impressing cylinder that later stamps the page, and is put into an

autoplate, or casting machine, which presses molten metal upon the paper

matrix, cools the metal, and turns out in a few moments the finished,

cylindrical plates ready to be put on the press for printing. Duplicates

follow at intervals of from fifteen to twenty seconds, so that several

impressions of the same page may be made at once in the press room and

the whole paper printed more quickly than if a single impression of a

page were made at one time.

=26. The Press Room

The press room, the third and final stage in the

mechanical composition of the paper, is where the printing is done on

highly complicated machines. The larger the number of pages of the paper

printed, the more complicated the presses, the marvel of them being

their adaptability to running full, or half, or third capacity,

according to the needed output, or to printing a double or triple number

of small sized papers in a third or half the usually required time. The

large presses of the great dailies print, fold, cut, paste, and count,

according to the size of the sheet, 50,000 to 125,000 papers an hour. A

double sextuple press has a limit of 144,000 twelve-page papers an hour.

=27. The Printing Press

It is on the cylinders of these presses that

the circular stereotyped plates are fitted, two plates filling nicely

the round of the cylinder. All the plates for the inside pages of the

paper are stereotyped and screwed on their cylinders a half-hour or more

before press time, the pages with the latest news being held until the

last possible moment. Usually the last page to come is the title page,

and as soon as the last locking lever has been clamped, the wheels of

the big press begin to turn. As the cylinders with their plates revolve,

raised letters on the surface of the plate come in contact, first with

the inked rollers, then with the paper, which is spun from large rolls

and drawn through the press, obtaining as it goes the impression of the

pages of type. As the printed ribbon of paper issues from beneath the

cylinders, it is cut into pages, folded, and counted, ready for the

circulation department. The whole period of time elapsing between the

chute of the last story from the city room and the delivery of the

printed pages to the newsboys will not have exceeded ten minutes.

=28. Speed in Printing

Even this brief time is materially cut when

great stories break. The result of the Willard-Johnson fight in 1915 and

all the details up to the last few rounds were cried on the streets of

New York within two minutes after Johnson had been knocked out in

Havana. This was made possible by means of the "fudge," a device

especially designed for late news. This is a small printing cylinder,

upon which is fitted a diminutive curved chase capable of holding a few

linotype slugs. When the fudge is used, a stereotyped front page of the

paper is ripped open and a prominent blank space left, so that if the

press were to print now, the paper would appear with a large unprinted

space on its front page. To this blank space, however, the fudge is

keyed, so that as the web of paper passes the main cylinder, the little

emergency cylinder makes its impression and the page appears to all

appearances printed from a single cylinder.

=29. Speed Devices

The value of the fudge, of course, is that, by

printing directly from the linotype slugs, it saves the time expended in

stereotyping. Its speed, too, is increased by reason of the fact that

every great newspaper has in the press room near the fudge a composing

machine to which a special telegraph wire is run, and a special operator

to read the news direct from the wire to the compositor. This enables

the papers to meet the baseball crowd on its way home with extras giving

full details of all the plays, and during the last quarter of the

football game to sell in the bleachers a complete account to the end of

the first half. But even this speed is not always sufficient. Where the

outcome of a big piece of news may be predicted, advance headlines are

set up and held ready to be clamped on the press. In the case of the

Willard-Johnson fight, two heads were held awaiting the knockout: JESS


McKinley died in September, 1901, one prominent Milwaukee newspaper man

held locked on his presses from 8:00 A.M. until the President died at

midnight the plates that would print the whole story of Mr. McKinley's

life, assassination, and death. Then when the flash came announcing the

dreaded event, the presses were started, and ten seconds afterward

newsboys were crying the death of the President of the United States.

Such are some of the devices editors use to publish news in the shortest

possible time.

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