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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.

Next: The Business Department

Previous: The Editorial Rooms

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