According to word received last week, as of May 1 Reno will be a more silent place. It will occur when the mighty rumbling of the giant presses at the Reno Gazette Journal will shut down for good. In addition to the stoppage of the presses, the building housing the RGJ will be put up for sale. The editorial and advertising staffs will be relocated to a more efficient space.
According to the news release, the paper will now be printed at Swift Publications in Carson City. The logistics of getting the finished product back to Reno for distribution were not revealed. Since I am accustomed to reading my copy of the RGJ at breakfast, I wonder if that habit will continue. For me, this marks the fourth change in printing operations of the local paper. I first visited the location of the local papers when they were two in number, the Journal being printed for morning delivery and the Gazette for evening delivery. The building was located on Center Street across from the very active Reno Print. Western Union offices were nearby as was the Reno City Hall. Both papers used the same printing press, which was located on the first floor. The newsrooms occupied separate offices along with UP and AP.
My earliest assignments, while a student at the University, came from legendary sports editor Ty Cobb. There were several of us from the Journalism School that were employed by Cobb and we were known as the “Journal Jocks”. Our primary assignment was to cover local High School sporting events, then rush back to the Journal and type up our stories prior to the midnight deadline. I was fortunate enough to always draw the Reno High assignment. I recall on many occasions sitting in the Press row beside KBET’s owner, Bob Stoddard. When the newspapers moved to West Second Street, most of my visits were to do Reno Rodeo releases and to partner with Cobb on the Reno Rodeo Special Edition.
Some of my earliest remembrances included a nightly assignment to type up results of the Reno City Basketball League, of which I was the Commissioner. It was during those times that I learned to “write to fit”. That exercise would occur when Cobb would give me the number of inches he had for me on that particular evening. On many occasions, when games ran late, I would have a linotype operator standing beside my desk who would snatch the copy and rush it to the Press room.
One of my favorite visits to the Center Street location occurred when I got permission to do a photo shoot with comedians Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, who both had prior experience as newsmen, along with famed photographer Don Dondero to snap the photos. At that time, the comic duo visited all parts of the installation, posing in comedic activities. The end result gained a three-page feature in the paper’s Entertainment Guide.
When the paper moved from Second Street to its present location, my visits were mainly to deliver my twice-a-month column. At that time I had my own mail slot at the newspaper.
Once I had to type an important obituary and my typewriter, an IBM Selectric, was in for service. So I prevailed upon my good friend Roland Melton to borrow his mechanical Royal. Switching from electric to manual proved to be more difficult than I anticipated.
With newspapers throughout the country in general states of decline and consolidation, it will be interesting to see how long the print media survives. Nonetheless, veteran members of the Fourth Estate will remember vividly those halcyon days of the clatter of typewriters, the smell of hot lead on the linotypes, the shouts of editors to reporters and the general hubbub of the old newsrooms.