In the beginning . . .

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by Joe Bollig
joe.bollig@theleaven.org

Our esteemed managing editor decided that The Leaven’s website was lacking a little something — a blog. So she said that we had to have one.

Why? Because there are a lot of things going on that don’t make it into the paper for one reason or another. And for that, sometimes, we are truly thankful.

For example, just before the Oct. 23 dedication Mass of the renovated Holy Cross Church in Overland Park, I was taking photographs of the altar when I fell down the sanctuary steps.

As I fell forward I did a little mid-air twist and landed on my shoulder, thus saving my camera from certain destruction. It didn’t do my shoulder any good, but I saved a valuable company asset, and I still got the story and photos.

This reaction came from an old reporter’s value that was pounded into me by forgotten assignment editors during my cub years: Cameras are expensive and hard to replace, but the paper can always hire another reporter.

So for my first blog entry, I’m going to take the advice of Glenda the Good Witch from the Wizard of Oz who said, “It’s always best to start at the beginning.”

I began my journey into newspaper journalism by taking the Royal Road. I learned to type on an old, manual Royal typewriter. Nobody types anymore. Today it’s called keyboarding. In any case, typing was the foundational skill.

In radio I learned other skills and knew the terror of trying to fix a screwed up ribbon on an old AP Model 15 KSR teletype while a record ran out on the turntable.

When I switched to newspapering (advertising at first), I witnessed the last gasp of typesetting and letterpress printing, and that marvelous beast the Compugraphic typesetting machine.

Actually, everyone hated them. If you know nothing about them, you are blessed.

A new technology was rising. My introduction to computer word processing was during college, using WordStar on a Zenith Z-100 computer. At my first reporting gig I used a dumb terminal attached to a mainframe computer.

My first computers at The Leaven were shiny Apple LC II and III “pizza boxes.” Wow, high tech! However, we still used reduction wheels for photos, and pica poles and X-Acto knives to paste waxed copy on cardboard forms. We also had a darkroom for chemical photography.

Over the years, we at The Leaven have gone through a succession of technologies: 3.5-inch floppies, Zip drives, scanners, digital cameras and increasingly powerful computers and operating systems.

But still in the corner, an aging fax machine hunkers down and faithfully churns while dreaming of the glory years before email.

Dial-up and BBS (bulletin board systems) have given way to email, blogs, websites of increasing sophistication, and social media with all its tweets, twitters, twits, squawks, pins, pokes, postings and so-on.

We’ve all had to adapt. For we who grew up analog, it hasn’t always been easy. The digital divide, my friends, is real.

For me, the latest adaptation was getting an Apple smartphone so I can do social media stuff. My first attempt was placing photos from the dedication Mass at Holy Family Church in Eudora on our Leaven Facebook page. I think they turned out pretty good.

I know, I know. The average kid in our archdiocesan schools knows more tech than I do. But look at how far I’ve come.

Would I give up my iMac with OS X Yosemite for anything from the “good old days”? NO! You’d have to pry that keyboard from my cold, dead hands.

But when things are slow, I like to pull that old Royal No.10 down from the shelf, shake off the dust cover, and tap, tappata-tap, tap, tappata-tap, DING!

Goodnight, Ernest Hemingway, wherever you are.

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