Thursday, April 27, 2006

Orchestrated Confusion

My regular readers know that I am a weekly columnist at the local newspaper. I also read parts of that newspaper on my radio station for the area’s visually impaired and homebound each morning. That combination brings me to the paper’s mailing room each night, somewhere between 12:30 and 2:00 a.m.

The front office people are long gone and even the newsroom is dark. But on the first floor, in back, is the most organized confusion you would ever want to see. On the left side of the wall is the press; all is quiet until the “roll” bell rings and then the mailing room staff appears from the sidewalk as the papers start coming in on the overhead conveyor belt.

Papers come off the belt and down through the stacker; two people keep up as the loads drop by weight and fill carts which go to the people at the long automated insert machine. It, in turn, chugs along and newspapers with their inserts are bundled for each carrier by two more people and a wrapping machine.

In the two-vehicle garage, the contract carriers (people who deliver bundles to the paperboys, or deliver papers themselves) move their cars and vans in and out from the street. Bundles come out on another conveyor and end up either in a waiting area, or in someone’s vehicle. Everyone has their own time slot through the night and they come and go smoothly.

Halfway through the run, the printers change rolls of paper and, if there is breaking news or sports, new plates come down to update what becomes the second edition. The later papers go to the “city zone,” rather than out to the sticks, so the locals get the latest news and sports.

This goes on all night, every night. Somehow, it works.


Blogger Reading Reader said...

This reminds me of Mr. Rogers. Remember how he used to show clips of how toothpaste got into the tubes or how pencils were made?

April 28, 2006 12:00 PM  

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