An end of an era, some might say.
The Evening Sun’s printing press was recently sold to a company that buys, re-builds, and re-sells newspaper presses.
A small crew from the Mississippi-based company was working all week dismantling the machine – a dirty orange precision instrument – and packing it onto a flat bed semi-truck to ship down south where it will be re-constructed and put back into operating order.
I took a few photographs, then stopped to watch one of the workers shovel up dried ink off the cement floor that had accumulated over the years of pushing out newsprint.
Long, long before I ever stepped through the door as a unsuspecting wide-eyed intern in 2009 that ink created countless words and pictures that were put together by talented journalists. Information and stories about this community, read by thousands of people around Hanover, Gettysburg, Jefferson, Fairfield, Abbottstown, West Manheim, and all of the other small communities and hamlets those printed pages served for so long.
Standing there, it was hard for me not to think about all of the hundreds of other presses around the country that are being sold, dismantled and shipped away from their long-time homes and how the state of newspapers is forever changing.
The loss of Hanover’s press came as no surprise. The Evening Sun has been printed in York for several years now, by it’s sister newspaper the York Daily Record. There is just no use for this press anymore.
But still, it’s well-known nowadays that news stories will only be available electronically in the near future. There will no longer be printed pages. Even one of central Pennsylvania’s biggest newspapers, The Patriot-News, announced recently that it’s eliminating some of the days they will publish.
I resumed taking pictures and asked one of the workers if they actually expected to sell it, thinking to myself what market is there anymore for these over-sized, oil-guzzling, archaic devices.
“Of course we’ll sell it, that’s what we do.” He answered without hesitation. “Mostly they’re shipped overseas, to Third World countries where they’re just happy to have color.” He added.
My thinking changed abruptly. Maybe the buying and selling of newspaper presses is a good business to be in after all.
A few years from now where it might be difficult to find a printed newspaper in America, I would like to fancy the idea that people all over will still have the article about their business framed and hanging on the wall, the picture of their daughter playing soccer laminated and latched on the fridge, or the heartfelt story about loss and redemption in one’s own community clipped out and tucked away in a binder to dig up at some later date, to remember.
Memories are what define us, collectively or individually. The good and the bad.
When we enter this era in the First World where our every need is satisfied by smartphones and computer tablets, it’s somewhat reassuring that these old machines might be chugging away spitting out ink over newsprint somewhere else.
And people will still be clipping out articles to hang up or put away for safe keeping.
Maybe somewhere in Africa or South America.
Telling similar stories again.
Photos Copyright Shane Dunlap The Evening Sun