Dreaming of the Good Ol’ Days of Publishing

For me, reading the Urbana Daily Citizen’s Saturday edition was a wistful experience.

The first thing that caught my attention on Page One was the color photo of the Urbana Twin Cinema’s marquee announcing the return of movies to Urbana. That’s good news: Urbana has not seen its “Last Picture Show.”

The wistfulness came when my eyes shifted right to the headline: “Urbana Daily Citizen will start 2011 in new location.”

It’s the Daily Citizen’s second metamorphosis in recent months. First, bankruptcy proceedings and a change of ownership. And now this—shedding its long-time home, 220 E. Court St. near downtown, for Suite 10 of the Scioto Square shopping center …  “conveniently located near Kroger,” as the article put it.

Granted, 220 E. Court St. is no architectural work of art. It’s as “artless” as the newsroom is windowless. Completely windowless, in fact. But really, a newsroom in a strip mall?

Of course, the move makes sense. Much of the current building is unused, wasting money to heat. The press room has been closed for many years since Brown Publishing consolidated printing operations of its papers. Desktop publishing put the composing room out of business. And thanks to digital photography, the darkroom is just a dark room—windowless like the newsroom.

But the place holds a lot of nostalgia. It’s the first place I ever wrote anything in Urbana, Ohio. I can’t remember what that first article was. But I slugged it out on a hulking manual typewriter, in my first job out of college, with the incessantly clattering Associated Press wire machine at my back, at a desk that abutted the desk of Managing Editor Phil Angelo—a desk and title that I eventually moved over to.

At the risk of sounding like some old guy, there really was a lot of charm to those good ol’ newspaper days.

But, come to think of it, what’s not to like about the ease of electronic publishing. Just a click of the “Publish” icon…. Now you’re reading this!

A tip of the fedora to Daily Citizen Managing Editor Brenda Burns for granting my request for one last nostalgic look around the confines of 220 E. Court St.–and, of course, a good deep breath of the lingering scent of printer’s ink.

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