East Anglia: Technology is ever changing but the EADT is here to stay

The EADT composing room staff at Carr Street in the mid 1950s.

The EADT composing room staff at Carr Street in the mid 1950s.

The technology used to produce newspapers has changed beyond recognition in my 35 years at the EADT, writes editor Terry Hunt as we celebrate the EADT’s 140th anniversary.

EADT Foundry workers preparing a flong for casting in the late 1950s at the Carr Steet, Ipswich site

EADT Foundry workers preparing a flong for casting in the late 1950s at the Carr Steet, Ipswich site.

My generation of journalists was the last to use trypewriters. We used copy paper - top copy for the sub-editors, then a piece of carbon paper, and then your own copy for your “spike,’’ to keep if challenged about anything after publication.

Your copy would then go to the subs, to be corrected, and for headlines to be added, and then out into the composing room to be re-typed, before (post hot metal) being “pasted up,’’ then “shot’’ (photographed) before finally a plate for the press was created.

Out in the district offices, reporters faced a race against time - to catch the bus with their copy parcel. When I was our man in Hadleigh, in our office in the Market Place next to the hairdresser’s and above Stan Hogg’s oufitters, my rather large but very spartan room consisted of: A desk, a chair, a typewriter, a telephone. I had to catch the 6.20pm Eastern Counties bus with my copy, otherwise it meant a drive into Ipswich.

Nowadays, when I tell these stories of yesteryear, the young reporters look at me and I know what they’re thinking - he’s finally lost the plot.

Because everything is unrecognisably different these days. The system is so streamlined. Reporters write their stories straight on to the pages, they are checked, sent, and turned into plates for the press. Other pages are still designed by sub-editors, or designers, Simple.

Do we make more mistakes these days? I honestly don’t think so. If you closely scrutinise the thousands of words in our re-printed first edition you will find glitches - including in Sir Frederick Wilson’s first editorial!

The wire room at the EADT in Carr Street

The wire room at the EADT in Carr Street

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What does the future hold for newspapers? Well, first and foremost, I would like to say that there is a future - contrary to what some doom-mongers have been saying in recent years.

Of course, the media landscape has changed enormously since the 1950s and 1960s. There are so many different ways to receive and consume news and other information these days.

An anecdote I always tell when I talk about the EADT’s history illustrates the point. My late father-in-law, Sam Reynolds, worked in our sports department for many decades. When Ipswich Town played regularly in Europe under Bobby Robson in the 1970s, Sam would often be in charge of getting the EADT sports pages out.

Tony Garnett would be the man thousands of miles away at the other end of a crackly phone line. Outside, in Lower Brook Street, people would gather, waiting for Sam to open a window and shout down the latest score. Because, back then, it was the quickest way of keeping up to date with the game. How times have changed!

The role of a newspaper is different now. Staying with football, these days there are many ways of keeping in touch the with game. So our reporting has adapted. On a Monday, our back page will not be a report of the game, or quotes from the manager, but comment and insight from our own football writers.

Expert opinion and analysis from writers who really know their stuff have become integral parts of all good newspapers. News is still hugely important, of course, and our 50-strong team of journalists will bring you a depth and breadth of local news not even closely matched by our rivals.

Hard news stories - crashes, fires, crimes - are published on our websites and social media platforms instantly. The paper will bring you those stories, as well as scores of others, as well as intelligent analysis and comment.

It’s also a fact that, if one of our journalists writes a story and it is published on all our platforms - newspaper, website, mobile, social media - more people will see those words than would have read the stories I was writing as a fledgling journalist back in the late 1970s.

So, don’t listen to the doom an gloom merchants. Yes, the media world has changed, and continues to do so, but I truly believe that the future is bright for good local papers like the EADT.

For more on Suffolk 140, visit our anniverary page or tweet us a message using #Suffolk140