Tour of the Miles City Star

Jessica Paul beside the old typewriter.

On March 8, Jessica Paul took a tour of the Miles City Star newspaper.  When we arrived, the presses were running, and that was an impressive sight to behold. The room that houses the press was a rectangle approximately 25 feet by 10 feet. A roll of paper for the press is nine miles long when unrolled and weighs a half of a ton. The newspaper has a direct electrical line to MDU, as the presses take much electricity to run. To print the paper, they still spread ink on the rollers and put on a metal plate with articles that have been sent from the computers.

The Miles City Star started in 1911, but earlier editions for the area started in 1870’s under the name of Yellowstone Journal. These were written in Victorian and Edwardian style. The newspaper is designed on the computers and then sent electronically to the press room for printing. The Miles City Star procures their national news by being a member of the Associated Press. They use a Mac based program for the newspaper as it offers more graphics to work with in producing the paper. They use Indesign and Adobe Sweep.

The newspaper has different job shops such as social activities, ads, billing, fliers, programs, sale books and brochures. Many of these articles are printed on their 10-foot Xerox machine. The photographer for the newspaper is a master of Adobe Photoshop. He has an unusual name tag on his desk, given to him by a 1st grader – Frtogrgfre – see if you can figure that out!!

We also received a tour of what they call the morgue, the basement, where you can find punchers, paper shakers and aligners, a guillotine paper cutter, staplers, stacks of paper and ink, and the storage area for the big half-ton rolls of paper for the presses. This is also, where you will find the archives of the old newspapers. They are bound in leather books starting in the year 1877. They have all been put on microfiche for the public’s use, due to their delicacy. Articles from these books are sometimes called into court cases, as they are the noted public record for the courts in the area. It was fun to look at the old newspaper articles and advertising. There have been many changes over the years on how our newspapers look.

They also had some really old presses, printers and machines on display. A unique one was a very old typewriter. We were told that the arrangement of the keys were that way for a specific reason. The most used letters are found where your weakest finger or little finger is placed. The reason for this was to slow you down so you did not bind up the keys by typing too fast. Another reason they are arranged this way is because you can type the word typewriter using all keys from the top row, and this made the sales clerks look like proficient typist by quickly typing the word typewriter. It was a very educational and fun tour. We did not realize all that actually goes into making a newspaper great.