In These Frugal Times: The Fruugalist
Sam Cassidy for House District 3 in Colorado

The Smell of the Press Room

As a former Rocky reporter and book reviewer, I was brokenhearted about the Rocky closing. I haven't been able to blog about it, so sad is the news.

I attended the wake, and the hardest part was talking to people who came up to me, knowing that I've made a living -- more or less -- online for the last half-dozen or so years, and they looked to me for hope that they will be able to do the same. I don't know what my own future holds, so...

They still have their heads held high, though, and they should. They produced an amazing product under the most difficult of circumstances.

And now today comes news of the next domino falling: They are closing the press at the Coloradoan. This is also horrible news.

It won't quiet the voice of the newsroom up there, but the 48 people losing their job were, I'm sure, doing as good of job at their jobs as the 250 or so people who were putting out the Rocky every day. They aren't as familiar to us, but they had respectable jobs doing honest work.

(Old fogey alert!) This saddens me especially because of my first regular journalism job at the Durango Herald. It was an afternoon paper then, and every day I would get to work early, read the official police blotter and turn it into the one we put in the paper and then write up whatever other stories were going on that day. We had to have all the words on the page so it could be pasted up by hand by 11:45 a.m. If we missed that, dozens of paper boys would be delivering the paper after dark, so we never missed it.

After gathering around the front page and the back page of the front section as the layout guy calmly finished his job with all of us yelling about the indignity of an editor moving a comma, or whatever, we reporters would mosey off for lunch. By the time we got back the presses were rolling, and I'd go watch every day, and grab a freshly printed paper and just breathe in the smell of it and flip through the pages.

At first, it was a thrill seeing my story on the front page, but that faded fast.

After that, it was just the joy of seeing something that actually got printed. The guys in the press room cared about the quality of the product, and it was an honor working side-by-side with them. We had different jobs, but we had the same goal every day: making something real.

We don't make much in this country any more. We buy a lot of plastic crap made by underage workers in countries that we just can't understand. Newspapers were one thing that we still physically produced.

We still do, barely. Now it's all done overnight in far away places and the papers are so thin that they can print, for example, the Denver Post, the Boulder Camera and the Fort Collins Coloradoan all on the same night on the same press. 

My son will probably never understand what it means to work someplace where people actually make something. Too bad, because for my couple of years in Durango, I was a part of making something, and I got to see the whole process from reporting the news to seeing it delivered in the course of a day, and it happened every single weekday.

And I loved it so much.

Goodbye, press room. You will be missed.