The physical copy of Newsday, in which some of you are reading this article, is made possible by the pressroom team in El Socorro.
Daniel Copeland, assistant pressroom manager, has been part of that team since the very beginning. Published by Daily News Ltd, Newsday first appeared on September 20, 1993. As part of our 25th anniversary celebrations, Copeland shared his perspective on how Newsday goes about “telling it as it is.”
Copeland usually spends much of his shift – usually 6 pm to 2 am – on his feet, inspecting that day’s run to ensure pages appear the way they were designed by the pagination department.
When it was time to be interviewed, he stepped away from the noise and distinct smells of a pressroom to the relatively quieter space of an office next door.
“Working in the pressroom, this job requires you to be very vigilant, constantly checking the run – what's coming off the press – to make sure the pages look as they were designed and laid out. So you’re on your feet at least five hours for the day.
“You get a little break between runs, but once the press is running, you can’t afford to let much time pass between checks, because the press has the capacity to print 25,000 pages per hour. That's about 1,000 runs every three minutes. So you have to be on top of things.”
Copeland began his career in the media on August 8, 1988 with the TnT Mirror, first as a security officer and then as a driver, before becoming a pressroom trainee in 1991. The Chookolingo family, which founded and owns the Mirror, went on to invest in Newsday, and the Mirror's press which printed Newsday in the early years.
Recalling those days, Copeland said, “I was there when they printed the first test issue at the (Mirror’s) pressroom, which back then was in Barataria. When the Mirror pressroom moved to a building in Curepe, around 1997, I moved with it, still as a pressroom trainee.”
In 1998, he was promoted to pressman. Then on November 28, 2007 – five and a half years after the pressroom was relocated to El Socorro – Copeland was again promoted, this time to assistant pressroom manager.
He credited his professional achievements to training provided by three people in particular: Zaid Khan, Cuthbert Lashley and Naraish Soogrim.
“Zaid resigned about five years ago, Lashley remained at the Mirror and Naraish is still with Newsday. He’s the most senior pressman on staff. The pressroom manager is Manoj Christopher. Naraish is one of those in charge of the actual press, while I'm in charge of the overall operations of the pressroom and mail room during the night shift."
The training Copeland referred to included learning how to bend the plates used to transfer the text/images onto paper to produce the end product sold to readers across the country.
“Before things became automated, we used to use big sheets of negatives, which would be pasted together before we burned the image onto the plates, using ultraviolet (UV) bulbs. We also had to wash the plates by hand, using a chemical solution, to highlight the images on the plate.
“About 12 years ago, we moved to a semi-automated system before upgrading, about six years ago, to the fully automated system we use today. The first computer system still required us to bend and process the plates – the system burned the image onto the plate for us: that was the main difference to UV/manual system.
“Now everything is automated.”
Some pressroom duties have been replaced by machines, but others remain, one of the most important being to monitor print quality and adjust the computer system as needed.
Asked what he most enjoys about working in the pressroom, Copeland smiled.
“The quality product we produce.
“I also like that there’s a sense of family, which helps when you spend so much time together.”