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Labor Day

Labor Day

Labor Day

Labor Day

Labor Day

Labor Day

Labor Day

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5 September 2022

We've always been fond of this photo, taken in the 1950s with what we assume to be a Graflex by the staff photographer at Underwriters' Report, a weekly insurance industry newsmagazine.

The Office. Underwriters' Report, circa 1955, editorial office on Sacramento St. Processed in Adobe Camera Raw to colorize and straighten the converging verticals.

We can't be certain but we believe the photographer at the time was Dave Sobel. The publicity shot, taken to celebrate the publication's 50th anniversary, is staged.

The image was taken in the front office next to reception (which was no more than a hallway) in front of production (which was a couple of light tables) upstairs from the darkroom and just before you got to the 22-inch Webendorfer in the press room. We remember it from our childhood.

Way in the back of this photo is Dad on the phone posing as if he were covering a story as the assistant editor. He would take us to work now and then to see how things were done. He later become the editor-in-chief and eventually the publisher.

This image is part of a series of photos (the top image starts the slide show) taken to publicize the magazine. The series includes images of that reception desk, a couple of the paste-up department with the art director presiding over its light tables, some hot lead typsetting on a Linotype, the lithographer (who was also the abstract expressionist painter Joel Barletta who, along with Ralph Gleason, were among the publications most famous employees), the pressman manning the Webdorfer, typsetting on a new-fangled Friden tape machine and the office.

How things were done back then, in short.

There's another slide show just a bit below that which shows how things had changed by the end of the century. You'll see computers on every desk but the light tables didn't go away. Nor did the Webendorfer (which was joined by two more to handle color work). And there's a large process camera attached to a darkroom with a halftone computer and some bindery equipment.

We ran and repaired most of that equipment and configured most of those computers and wrote a lot of custom software to run the business including C programs to handle classified and commercial advertising and some production tasks as well as record premiums and losses by every company that did business in the state.

Publishing is done differently now, of course.

Instead of the telephoone most communication is by text and email. Instead of a press (and the Post Office), there's HTML on the Web. The art director is a luxury replaced, for the most part, by "themes." And production is largely automated.

Publishing, at least in this sector, is largely a lonely business.

You still need someone to get the story and write it up, of course. And it helps to have someone checking that work.

If that sounds like a lot of work, it is. It was then and it is now. And it always will be, if it's done right.

Which is why we're taking the day off.

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