The daily newspaper is available hot off the press six days a week for breakfast. But how much effort is actually put into the production of a local edition? Very much! Decades ago, this was much more difficult than it is today. There were no computers, no spelling programs and no digital photography.
Let’s look back to the post-war period up to the 1980s. The kronach local edition of the frankischer tag was printed in bamberg, but produced at the heim company in the amtsgerichtsstrabe in kronach. By a whole group of dedicated and very hardworking men and women. This was in the last decades of the so-called lead age. The pages of the local edition were produced in lead type. Whereas lead was only used to a certain percentage. For the headlines, the typesetters took steel letters out of the composing box and sorted them back into the correct compartments the next day so that they could be used again. The normal text was created with the help of ingenious typesetting machines – the most famous of which was hieb linotype.
At the linotype
One of these typesetters was otto heinlein from stockheim, who worked from early to late on the linotype sab, an oversized typewriter. It was as crude as a cupboard and had magazines with metal dies. When otto heinlein tapped on one of the keys, a matrix fell out of the corresponding compartment. Print line after print line was filled in this way. When a line of print was full, the typesetter pulled a lever and the whole line was lifted under a holder with a fluffy lead-tin-antimony alloy and poured out. This special alloy has a melting point of less than 200 degrees and cools quickly. The lead alloy printing lines were melted down and the bars reused.
"It was hard work, but I always enjoyed it", otto heinlein looks back. First of all, he learned news much earlier than others, secondly, it was a wonderful newspaper family in which he worked and in which everyone stood up for each other.
Compared to today, the lead sentence process was circumstantial. Nowadays, e-mails are automatically inserted into the newspaper typeset, or the editor types directly into the computer. Nothing has to be entered a second time. Otto heinlein received the edited manuscripts from the editors willi schreiber and hans welscher, or the newspaper makers typed the articles themselves on paper using a mechanical typewriter. For the skilled typesetter, "printing error" was a foreign word; nevertheless, if the typographical error devil was at work once, the entire line had to be produced anew. Much more time-consuming than today, when you move the cursor to the relevant position on the screen with the mouse and eliminate the error.
Line by line
So everyone can imagine what a tedious job it was until a whole page of newspaper was printed, line by line. The many lines were separated by a metal frame, the so-called "ship", held together.
This would have been much too heavy to transport from the production site in kronach to the printing site in bamberg. Therefore, a soft and moist felt, the mater, was placed on the ship with the many printing lines and pressed with high pressure. After the mater had been dried with heat, it was feather-light and hard, but still pliable. Ideal, to be cast later in bamberg with the lead-tin-antimony alloy, so that the half-cylinders for the printing press could be created.
Missed the case
The maters of the local kronach edition of the frankischer tag went into a suitcase. This had to be brought to the train to bamberg. A race against time from sunday to friday. The matern suitcase was picked up at the bamberg train station by a courier driver and taken to the printing center. If he was too late because he was stuck in a traffic jam, the maters continued southward. From nurnberg, the suitcase was sent back to bamberg on a return train.
Once a maternity suitcase from kronach landed in salzburg. Of course, it was not possible to think of a jerk transport, which would have been in bamberg in time for the printing of the kronach edition. So otto heinlein’s colleagues were alerted and had to return as quickly as possible to the setting station in the district court and press new mothers. One had an additional task, because he had to bring the mothers to bamberg. If the mothers were not ready in time before the departure of the last train, an evening car ride from kronach to bamberg was also necessary.
It was more convivial
So the good old days were sometimes not as great as we make them out to be today. But otto heinlein and his colleagues don’t get down on themselves. Socializing was not only the order of the day at the end of the shift; even during the day there was often a reason to sit together and drink a beer. As a rule, the editors knew shortly after 8 a.M. What the next day’s newspaper was going to look like, because the mailbox in the kronach post office building and the mailboxes in amtsgerichtsstrabe and hussitenplatz had been emptied. After that, manuscripts were received only when a staff member brought them in person. Something special had to happen during the day for the plan to be overturned.
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