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85 years and going

June 11, 2013 - Craig Howell
The Weirton Daily Times is 85 years old this month. That's relatively young for a community newspaper, especially one in the eastern portion of this country where communities and newspapers have existed for well over 200 years. The Hartford Courant, for example, is almost 250 years old. But, here we are, observing 85 years of coverage of the city of Weirton and the many communities in Hancock and Brooke counties. There have been many changes over those years. Just a look through some microfilm — or actual physical copies if you can find them — shows a few of the physical changes. The pages were once bigger, the layout has showcased a variety of types of news, we've gone from black and white photography to color, film to digital, typesetting to computer pagination. I cannot even imagine the reaction some of our earliest staff members would have if they were to see how a newspaper is put together today. Typewriters have not been used in this profession for quite some time. There are probably many of today's journalists who have never even seen a typewriter, yet alone used one. Even within the last 12 years of my journalism career, the changes and adjustments in this business have been astounding. When I was in college, for example, we were still learning how to shoot and develop film for our photographs. The newspapers of the Ohio Valley had no online presence whatsoever. Keep in mind, I graduated from West Liberty in 2001. During the last decade or so, the job of a newspaper reporter has gone from simply writing the articles to also taking photographs. The idea of having a staff member solely for photography is quickly becoming a thing of the past. The Chicago Sun-Times, for example, only recently let go of its entire 20-person photography staff. They are training their reporters to take photos and using freelancers to fill the void. At The Weirton Daily Times, we haven't had photographers for several years. Every picture you see printed with local news is either taken by a staff writer or editor, or sent to us by a resident, school, business or organization. Then came the web skills, and learning how to take and edit video and now we're incorporating social media into the practice to try and provide snippets of the news throughout the day and provide more interactivity with our readers. The newspaper has its own Twitter and Facebook accounts, and some members of the staff also have "professional" accounts to help you reach us. The fact you are only going to read this through a blog on our website puts another layer into the makeup of the modern newspaper business. Just imagine what the news industry will be like in another 30, 50 or 85 years.


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