How the Paper gets Produced

The following comes from the Official Opening and Open House from Otter Publishing Ltd. Edition published Friday October 27th, 1978

"Getting it together

Constant battle against time

The news reporter sits in the council chamber, listening to discussions and scribbling notes on what is said.

The photographer gets a tip by phone and rushes out to capture the drama of a fire on film.

The advertising representative makes the rounds, discussing business with the store managers, and suggesting effective ways to get an advertising message across.

The classified ad-taker answers a phone call and condenses into as few words as possible a simple message to help the callers sell or buy an item; to find help; offer services, or any of the other varied, day-to-day, people-to-people intercommunications that can be handled so effectively through the classified section.

It all sounds simple and routine, but before the information is packaged into newspaper form and delivered throughout the community, there’s a lot of work to be done – some of it frantic, last-minute effort – to get the paper out on time.


For the reporter, meeting end is the start of another round of work – checking with officials on obscure points or get an explanation on what a particular decision means to the community; going through earlier reports for background information; sorting the information gathered into its relative importance, and compiling it in written form so that the average reader can be informed of what is happening.

The photographer must develop the film, decide which pictures are most relevant and interesting, decide on proper size in consultation with the editors, print the pictures and write explanatory information in the cutline.

Copy then goes to editors for checking, marking for typesetting and headline writing.

The ad rep also takes information, chooses illustrations and writes copy to tell the advertiser’s story in a manner that will be both attention-getting and informative. Each ad is listed on a master sheet for placement on the paper. For classified ads, a control sheet is prepared to indicate classification and when the ad is to run.


Both news and advertising copy flows to the composing room.

News copy goes to the typesetters, where it is first encoded on tape, and then fed through the phototypesetting machines, which automatically compute line lengths and print on photo-sensitive paper.

Ad copy is marked for type size, and then sent to the typesetting machines – the smaller type to be done by the coding process, and larger type set on a keyboard-operated phototypesetter.

Photos go to the darkroom to be screened into halftone positives.

All ads are then made up in final format, with type and illustrative material.

News and ad copy then go to the proofreaders for correction.

Ad copy is positioned on layout pages, and photos, stories and headings positioned – something like a jigsaw puzzle.


Completed pages go to the darkroom where the mechanical negatives are shot. Negatives are checked and any unwanted marks are “opaqued.”


Negatives are stripped together in the proper configuration for plating. The negs are contacted to the photo-sensitized aluminum plates in a vacuum frame and “burned” through exposure to a carbon arc light source. Plates are then “rubbed up” and ready for the press.


The four-unit, Goss Community offset press is capable of printing up to 16 full-size or 32 tabloid-size pages at one time. The newsprint “web” from each unit is fed together through the folding unit, which folds and cuts off each newspaper. The press will run up to 16,000 papers per hour.

In the offset process, ink from the positive-reading plate is transferred to a rubber blanket, and then printed on the paper. In the letterpress method, still used to some extent in our job printing plant, negative reading type is inked and the image transferred directly to paper.


As papers come from the press, they go to the circulation department, where they are addressed for mailing purposes, or counted and bundled for delivery to carriers and store outlets.

Truck routes cover the immediate area to get papers to the post offices and drop-off points.

Extra sections are hand inserted to make up the paper.


The whole operation is a battle against the clock in an effort to get the newspaper package delivered on time to the ultimate boss in the whole operation – the reader."


The following four videos illustrate the newspaper industry over the years. None of the videos belong to Annandale National Historic Site.


For more information on the printing process you can visit the National Print Museum of Ireland

This video illustrates the

Wharfedale Press, like the one used by W. S. Law at the Tillsonburg Observer.

This video is an excerpt from a 1950s documentary on making a newspaper.

Although this is not the Tillsonburg News, the video illustrates what newspaper production was like at the time.  

This video illustrates the

linotype machine used in newspaper production. 

This video shows a more modern "How It's Made" of a newspaper. 

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