Life at the Addy – the old days by Richard Jones


There’s a reunion happening at the Bendigo Advertiser on Saturday 28 February and Mr Jones will be there…

A LOT has changed in the 38 years since I first began work at the Bendigo Advertiser.
AddyNewFor starters, the old typewriters on which we punched out our stories have long become mere museum pieces these days.
The other day while de-cluttering in a storage wardrobe I came across an old portable Olivetti. Very clunky in the 2000s even though back in the day it was regarded as a lightweight and very desirable item.
And how did we use the typewriters? Well, stories had to be written on little slips of paper known as ‘copy paper’. The first two, sometimes the first three, paragraphs had to be typed on separate copy slips.
That was to allow the sub-editors of the day to hand-write which sized font the first two paragraphs were to be set in. The rest of the story could then be typed at three, perhaps four, sentences per piece of copy paper.
No computer programs back then. From the copy paper, the linotype operators in the production room would set each paragraph or sentence in hot metal ready to be laid out into the page frames.

And it seemed that deadline times were much more flexible three decades back.
Many times I would be hot-footing it back up central Bendigo’s McCrae Street from the Weeroona Oval Tribunal rooms late on a Monday evening.
The Bendigo Football League Tribunal had been deliberating over the weekend reports, frequently involving a bit of biffo out on the park.
The sports sub-editor held a hole for the story. Only trouble was that occasionally it was past 11.30 pm, moving up to 11.45 pm, before I got back into the office.
As I was feverishly typing away on the afore-mentioned copy paper slips, he’d yell out: “Five sentences more. Not long ones, either.”
I don’t recall ever missing a deadline but it must have been awfully close, lots of times.
As I eventually left the building to pile into the car out in Hargreaves Street, the delivery trucks were already lined up in the lane, primed to collect the first editions as the old printing press groaned into action.
Away from the hot, sweaty production room — steamy because of all the hot metal used in the Seventies and early Eighties — the Addy had a vibrant social club.
We’d have staff Christmas parties, and other functions run by the social club, at the White Hills Gardens or the recently built park at the end of Belinda Avenue in Golden Square.
Many of us had small children and chief photographer the late Cliffy Pinder would be dolled up as Santa, handing out presents to a pack of eager kids.
And before those memorable family occasions the managing editor of the day, Doug Lockwood, would host an annual Christmas dinner.
I remember collecting envelopes with a $100 staff bonus cheque stuffed inside. Pretty handy sum way back in 1978-79 and considering the company employed at least 95 to 100 people back then, Doug’s largesse was roundly appreciated.
Doug mingled with everyone at the staff Christmas dinner. And when a staff member became a new parent he would see to it that a card, frequently flowers, were delivered to the happy family.
Many old-time readers will be familiar with the name ‘Lockwood’. Doug was the Melbourne Herald‘s man in Darwin and was there when the Japanese aerial onslaught started in early 1942.
His reports were eventually published world-wide. But Doug was unable to file the stories from Darwin.
The post office had been flattened so Doug had to commandeer a car and drive flat-out to Katherine to send his scoops.
I had first met him in Port Moresby when Doug was the Herald and Weekly Times appointee to the PNG Post-Courier‘s managing editor position.
He was keen to have a bright-eyed young sports writer on his team, particularly when the South Pacific Games were held in Moresby in 1969 and later in Guam in 1975.
Sadly Doug passed away in 1980, aged just into his early Sixties.
With the advent of the new ‘green screen’ computers things changed irrevocably at the Addy.
There were many goodbye parties as less and less production staff were required. Unlike today where reporters sub their own stories and lay out their own pages, there were still separate sections of the journalists’ rooms for reporters and sub-editors.AddyOld
The best features of these new computers was their flexibility. Not only could we have split screens in front of us, but entire sentences and sometimes whole three or four-sentence paragraphs could be highlighted and moved up and down inside a story, at will, and even across the page into the story on the other side of the screen.
As a confirmed computer nerd these days, constantly in contact via iPhone, tablet and laptop, the clunkiness of the old typewriter days seems a world away.
But, hey, it happened and they were phased out. The Addy staff were always adaptable and able to take on board the new systems, albeit sometimes a little reluctantly.
AddyArtBe interesting to share a meal and a drink or seven with former Addy colleagues.
One thing’s for sure. We were never short of a bit of banter back in the day.
Nothing will have changed there, that’s for sure.

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