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The Lufkin News

Looking to the future

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Posted: Thursday, February 22, 2007 12:00 am

The 1980s saw a fundamental change in how the Newspaper was produced as personal computers streamlined the process. As the decade began, getting stories and advertisements into publishable form was a labor-intensive process. Reporters typed stories first on typewriters and then later on video-display-terminals that sent the copy to a machine that spit out galleys of type. Production crews then trimmed the copy and adhered it to layout sheets with wax. Headlines were produced using a different machine. As one veteran layout artist put it, it was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle without having a picture to go by. Paper dummies gave the composing crew a rough idea of what a page would look like. Gary Willmon, now city editor of the paper, began working for LDN in 1975 as a freelancer and joined the sports staff full-time in 1976, where he was editor until 1989. He returned as city editor, with the responsibility for assigning and editing local stories, in 2005. He recalls how arduous the process of producing a Newspaper was before computers became common. "It was a lot more labor-intensive in those days. You had to devote more time to the process, so I knew to come in early and could count on staying late," Willmon said. "I started in the days of manual typewriters, but even making the switch to the very first computers was a time-consuming process. The production programs were a whole lot slower than we have today, and sometimes it took forever to get pages out." His final remarks echo what many long-time Newspaper folks say now. "Knowing how it was back then, and seeing so many rapid changes over the past 20 years in technology, it boggles your mind," he added. "I keep thinking, 'How the heck did we manage to get a paper out in those days?' I'm still not sure I know the answer." In 1984 the Newspaper, which had been at its present location at the corner of Ellis and Herndon, undertook a $1.7 million expansion that included expanding the building to the west to accommodate a "new" press. Actually it was a refurbished 1964 Goss Urbanite, but it offered the Newspaper much greater printing and color capacity. Two major changes occurred in 1989. The first was alluded to earlier, when the LDN converted to using Macintosh computers to produce the copy for the Newspaper - one of the first dailies in the country to do so. That allowed most of a Newspaper page to be produced on the screen, instead of type being physically adhered, one column at a time, to a layout page. This process, called pagination, drastically speeded up the process of producing a Newspaper page. Pagination has now advanced so that the entire Newspaper is produced digitally, from stories to advertisements and photographs. Reduced-size page proofs are still printed to check for errors, but otherwise the first "paper" produced is when the Newsprint rolls off the press. Also in 1989, Joe Murray, editor and publisher since 1978, was named special writer for Cox Newspapers and began traveling the world, filing columns that ran in many Newspapers across the country until his retirement in 2000. Veteran Newspaper publisher Bill Martin succeeded Murray and soon after promoted Phil Latham, then managing editor, to the top editorial position. Latham started working for LDN as a reporter in 1980. Martin headed to Longview to run the News-Journal, another Cox Newspaper, as publisher in the fall of 1993. Glenn McCutchen, who at the time was editor-publisher of The Daily Sentinel, in Nacogdoches, which Cox had purchased from local owners in 1989, became the Lufkin publisher. McCutchen, who had spent much of his career in the Newsroom of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Cox flagship paper, was instrumental in spearheading the next major change at the Newspaper from afternoon to morning publication seven days a week, in July 1996. For the first 89 years of the paper's existence, delivery was during the afternoon, though the weekend editions eventually became morning publications. "It became clear to us that given the modern News cycle, we could produce a much better Newspaper by doing it the night before for morning delivery," McCutchen said. "There simply isn't that much News occurring in the early morning, which is when we had to close out the afternoon edition." McCutchen headed to Longview in 1997 when Martin retired there. Belinda Gaudet, who had been publisher in Orange and later general manager for a group of Newspapers in the Mesa, Ariz. area, returned to Texas as LDN publisher. Under her leadership, the Newspaper remodeled much of its interior, installed new mailroom equipment and entered the digital world when was launched in Fall 2001. Much of the Newspaper's content, plus many features not found in the Newspaper, are available on The site increasingly uses video and audio clips, offers a number of interactive features and a wealth of material that it would be impossible to produce in a Newspaper of this size. In the five-plus years since its launch, the Web site's audience has grown to upwards of 100,000 unique visitors each month - meaning that many different computer addresses access the site in a given month. In mid-2003, Gary Borders was named publisher of The Lufkin Daily News. Borders, a veteran Newspaperman, joined Cox in 1989 as editorial page editor of LDN, then became managing editor of The Daily Sentinel the next year. In 1993, he was named editor-publisher of the Nacogdoches paper, a post he held for 10 years. Beginning in 1996 he served additionally as editor of LDN while keeping his Nacogdoches position until being appointed to his current position. He succeeded Latham as editor, when the latter was named editor-publisher of the Marshall News Messenger. The latest major capital improvement to the Newspaper occurred in 2004, when more than $2 million was invested in a refurbished press to replace the Goss installed in 1986. The Goss Urbanite press required two cupolas to be installed, in order to raise the pressroom roof to accommodate the larger press equipment. "The nearly $3 million Cox has invested over the past three years in capital improvements underscores our company's commitment to this community," Borders said. "Those improvements, and an ever-improving and expanding Web presence position The Lufkin Daily News well to meet the demands of a changing marketplace." Borders added the Newspaper's mission remains the same. "We will continue to be your primary source for local News and sports, just as we have for the past 100 years," he said. "Some of our readers will choose to get that information via the Internet, while others will rely on the print product - and others will use both." Regardless, he added, "We'll be here, bringing you the News of the day, just as we have for a century." The staff of The Lufkin Daily News as of February 2007 gathers outside the Newspaper office building for a group photo. A reception marking the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Newspaper was held Thursday at the Museum of East Texas. Photo by Angela Marcotte/Expressive Images Pressroom Manager Steve Redd monitors the web lead while running the TV Guide for The Lufkin Daily News and The (Nacogdoches) Daily Sentinel. The press crew runs almost 30,000 copies of the section for the two Newspapers. Joel Andrews/The Lufkin Daily News The Feb. 2, 2003, front page of The Lufkin Daily News. The Sept. 23, 2005, front page of The Lufkin Daily News. The Nov. 8, 2006, front page of The Lufkin Daily News. The Dec. 23, 2001, front page of The Lufkin Daily News.

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