Readers are largely unaware of the changes that have propelled newspaper production from hot metal technology into the era of photocomposition.
Although today's editions of the Deseret News have the same general appearance as papers of 20 or 30 years ago, there have been startling changes in the way they are produced.As dramatic as these changes have been, the Deseret News has retained its basic "look" that readers easily recognize and have become used to.
That look has traditionally been maintained by makeup editors, the newspaper's page designers.
More recently, technological advances in newspaper production have spawned a new class of editor/designer - the paginator.
Pagination is a new development that makes possible the electronic merging of textual and graphic elements to produce a printed page.
To understand pagination you must visualize how production processes have changed in the past 20 years.
Traditionally, the makeup editor designed a page, using a "dummy" sheet, a grid showing vertical columns of blank space drawn to scale. He penciled in the position of headlines, stories, pictures and captions on the dummy, using "slug" words for identification. Elements of the page passed through the copy desk for editing and headlining. Each story then went to the "composing" room to be set line by line into metal type on a Linotype machine.
Following the outline of the dummied page, compositors in the composing room assembled each element onto a full-size page form, from which a matrix was made for plate-making.
Linotypes gave way to the advanced technology of photocomposition, the setting of lines of type photographically - at much faster speed.
Compositors now pasted up each element of the page on a cardboard grid sheet rather than assembling "galleys" of metal type.
Pagination takes the process one step further - electronic pasteup. The paginator - working in the newsroom where the news is written and edited - electronically merges the separate elements of a page on a large computer screen, from which an entire page can be photographically set, pictures and all. Plates for the press are then made through a photographic process.
Although section editors are still responsible for the content and appearance of a page, actual details of designing the page have been placed in the hands of paginators, who combine editing skills with mastery of the pagination terminal.
Initially, the paginator sketches on a paper dummy the outline of page. While elements of the page are being cleared through the copy desk, the paginator moves to the pagination terminal, calls up a blank grid of the page (bout one-half actual size) and begins blocking in the exact position of text and graphic elements, using the terminal's capabilities of drawing lines and boxes. Until actual text has been called up to the terminal screen by the paginator, the page appears to be a series of boxes representing headlines, banks of type, photos and other page elements.
With a page outline complete, the paginator begins "flowing in" copy from the central computer and graphics from the photo scanner until all elements of the page are in place. He then pushes a "set" key, sending the finished page to the photosetting unit in the composing room, which produces a full-size printout, ready for plate making.
Steve Schowengerdt, director of pagination, says that as paginators sharpen their skills, they will be able to create a page design directly on the pagination terminal, thus eliminating the need for first sketching the outline of the page on paper.
The pagination department now has 12 full-time designers, most with either journalism or graphic arts experience. Using six page makeup terminals, paginators now produce about 450 pages a week. After less than two years of operation, the department is paginating virtually 100 percent of the news and feature pages of the paper.
You probably will never see their bylines. Their contribution is in making the paper attractive and easy to read - as we like to say, "reader friendly."