When I started as a journalist, newspapers and magazines were still put together using hot metal type. At times I catch a faint metallic smell reminding me of those days.

The old fashioned type machines were fascinating. So were the skills used to put type together.

I also remember the clack of typewriters, telephones with bells, the newsroom clash of egos, the mumbling from the subs desk and the questions from the proof-readers. I’ve never been a smoker, but years spent working in newsrooms probably did as much damage to my lungs. And the pub lunches waiting for contacts to spill the beans and deliver an exclusive punished my liver.

Of course I miss the shabby glamour of the old days. Journalism was fun then.

It can still be fun.

The one thing I feel newspapers really lost when moving to modern digital systems were the clipping and photo libraries, the librarians and the other custodians of knowledge who just knew how to find stuff fast. Google did for them.

Google does a great job, but I miss chatting with an intelligent human being then seeing a manilla folder of clips and photos arrive on my desk an hour or so later.

Often, the librarian’s knowledge or insight could add value to my stories or spark new ones.

That’s all lost now.

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