The speaker at the February general meeting of Todmorden U3A was preceded by the showing of a DVD of a film made in the 1960s, entitled Printers Ink, about the Todmorden News and Advertiser as it was then.
Following this, John Greenwood, content editor of Todmorden News and Hebden Bridge Times, spoke on changing times in the press, how the paper is run now and of the challenges that the press faces.
The film started with a visit to Todmorden police station by the chief reporter, to be briefed by Inspector Woodall on all the incidents that the paper may wish to report. This doesn’t happen in the same way now, John noted.
John himself started on the paper halfway in time between then and now and already things were changing. Although composition of type was still the norm, technology had moved on from the “hot metal” depicted in the film.
Then, news was held on to and the paper the only way to get it. Today the titles also use websites and social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
John said that with a story developing, what appears in the paper may be an update of what first appeared on the website. The advent of new media is a challenge to print as well as something it embraces. Ways need to be found to generate from online media a share of the revenue vital to keep newspapers going - news is an expensive business.
These days work begins immediately on the next paper once one is published. New technology has reduced staff numbers - for example, full time-proof readers went a long time ago. Accuracy is a byword, although mistakes are sometimes made. Contributions from the public are always welcome.
Today’s newspaper is more of a dialogue between the public and the paper than ever before. John was asked about the identity of The Old Grumpies. He replied he knew some of them, not others, and confirmed that they are not staff members.
Readership is healthy across all media, and John assured his audience the Todmorden News and Hebden Bridge Times will be around for a few years yet.