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Tuesday 26 March 2019
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25th Anniversary

From scalpels to social media

KIERAN ANDREW KHAN

Newsday began print operations like all other newspapers at the time – using the standard process known as paste-up.

The evolution from templates and scalpels to digital and social media has been a frenetic one, led by a team of stalwarts in journalism and those advocating for new digital frontiers.

Today many newspapers still struggle with how best to capitalise on technology that evolves every few months – a path along which Newsday always sought to lead the way

Sheri Halal, who also served as operations manager at the paper, started as chief sub-editor when creating a newspaper was a highly physical and labour-intensive operation.

“We started with paste-up, which essentially was cutting and physically pasting stories, column by column, on to a template. Photographs were inserted separately, so that we usually left the blank space for them.

“These pages would then be taken and converted into negatives, which would then be transferred to plates for printing the paper finally,” she recalled.

“In situations where there was an error spotted post-paste-up, we would have to use a scalpel to remove the offending line of text from the paper and insert a new line or correct the word physically.”

Newsday quickly made the move to bringing computers into the newsroom, which started to change the game.

“We could now entirely design a page, with photography and use computer-to-plate (CTP) technology, skipping the negatives, by 2004 /2005.

Eventually the newspaper installed a dedicated trunk line to connect the Port of Spain editorial office with the El Socorro press, becoming one of the first operations of its kind in the Caribbean.

Richard Rambarran, production manager, also noted that it was at this time that Newsday began to make use of PDF technology to move large files between the layout offices at Port of Spain and El Socorro, as one of the first newspapers to do so locally.

That allowed the paper to create workflows to make production more efficient, Rambarran elaborated.

“By 2015, we were able to run a full content management system (CMS), based on this experience which connects writers, editors, the advertising department and the layout team in one unified space.”

A website was initially created in the year 2000 and was eventually taken under the wing of Jerry Chin Lee, a member of the board who has been the driving force behind many of the recent updates and additions.

Among the most exciting developments where print and consumer technology align today are augmented reality and 3D. Newsday created the first 3D Carnival souvenir magazine in 2013, with the input of Simone Walters-Rocke, marketing project officer, based on an idea that she had spotted in a US magazine.

Walters-Rocke recalled, “The first edition of the Carnival magazine was a hit – you could use the supplied 3D glasses to view the pages in a totally new and immersive experience. It took a lot of work, including designing the ads in-house to be able to achieve the vision we wanted.”

Later, augmented reality would follow, allowing readers to use their mobile devices to hover over the printed Carnival magazine and a few other special publications such as MENtality and WMN, to have images come alive to play extended video on the phone or to view an ad or image in 3D

Rambarran, who had a direct hand in this, recalled, “We were able to create the first WMN magazine using 3D technology for its launch edition, so I was responsible for ensuring that the print versions translated well into 3D and AR, which took hours of research to get right.” The team wouldn’t stop there, as Walters-Rocke noted, “The idea was to open the newspaper and brand up to more readers with these exciting technology inputs, which we followed up with by introducing the Newsday N-Touch app, the brainchild of (former acting CEO) Maria Cooper and other team members, which meant that readers could now view the paper in full on their mobile devices too.”

These developments would also go hand-in-hand with Newsday’s WMN and MENtality Facebook and Twitter Pages being the first to go live online, to create an entirely new space to connect with readers, before the main newspaper itself followed on those platforms and added Instagram too.

Today, Newsday continues to innovate across digital and social media platforms. The model – a successful mix of journalistic traditions and technological inputs, coupled with a work environment being built to foster emerging trends – ensures that the people’s newspaper is on the right path in delivering the news in the way readers want it today.

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25th Anniversary