Tribune Tour No. 1—Seeing the News Room | Tribune Tour No. 2—Printing the Chicago Tribune | Tribune Tour No. 3—The Sunday Tribune
Chicago Tribune, December 4, 1938
IN YOUR HANDS and before your eyes is one of the from nine to a dozen different and distinct sections of today’s Chicago Sunday Tribune. Scattered about you in your home or wherever you may be are the other sections, on table, chair, or fioor, or in the hands of others, in most cases members of your family. This is a family newspaper, so, of course, others of your household are as much interested in it as yourself.
The Sunday Tribune, as you can see and as you have known ever since you have been reading it, is much more comprehensive than The Daily Tribune, the production of which has been described in two previous articles of this series. It is more than news, more than editorial opinion. It is a weekly unabridged presentation of everything under the sun to inform, instruct, and entertain readers of the widest variety of Interests.
The Sunday Tribune includes, in addition to the news, sports, and financial sections regularly found in the daily paper:
A complete section of from ten to sixteen pages of comics in four colors.
A section devoted to classified advertising, which makes profitable reading.
A Metropolitan Section devoted in the main to community news.
A Woman’s Section.
A Society and Travel Section.
A Drama and Movies Section.
A Picture Section done in both one tone and color rotogravure
And the Graphic Section in monotone and color rotogravure, which you are at the moment reading.
As you peruse these sections the thought may not enter your mind that you are enjoying the assembled product of hundreds of professional writers, editors, and artists, of an army of mechanical experts, and of tons and tons of the most ingenious machines that the publishing business ever has devised. Such, however, is the case, whether you realize it or not.
The Sunday Tribune, contrary to what some may believe, is not created merely by those who produce the daily paper, but by nearly all of these of the daily paper, supplemented by distinct organizations that work entirely upon the Sunday editions.
Two special and separate editorial stars, apart from the regular newsroom staf discussed in a previous article, are necessary to accomplish the editorial work required for the feature sections of the Sunday paper. One of these two is concerned only with the production of the Metropolitan Section, of which there are five separate editions that cover the news of five different parts of Chicago and its suburban area.
The other of the two distinct editorial stars is that of the Sunday department, which is responsible for the production of the comic section, the woman’s section, the drama and movies section, the society and travel sections, the picture section, and the Graphic Section. Contributions from the various departmental writers, such as the drama critic, the music critic, and a score of others have places in the Sunday feature sections. In fact, the entire newsroom personnel is at the disposal of the managing editor in producing the Sunday paper.
The Sunday department, under the direction of the Sunday editor, is quartered on the fourth floor of Tribune Tower, adjacent to the editbrial art department and connected by a corridor with the main newsroom. Its star, not counting a number of departmental writers who have desks in the Sunday department’s offices, and who write for both the daily and Sunday paper, contains twenty-seven members, seventeen of whom are women and girls. These include editors, writers, assistants, and secretaries.
The Metropolitan department also is quartered on the fourth floor of the tower. Its stat, under the leadership of the Metropolitan editor, numbers fourteen. These include editors, reporters, secretaries, and one photographer.
What surely must impress you as you turn from section to section of your Sunday Tribune is its amazing abundance of color.
The Daily Tribune, as you know, features color printing, especially in the form of full pages of color advertisements, but it is in the Sunday editions that you get full measure of color in editorial as well as advertising pages.
Color is The Tribune’s challenge to what may be for many an otherwise colorless world or an otherwise drab existence. Color is music to the eye just as a swing band or a symphony orchestra is music to the ear. Color is The Tribune’s answer to a depression and a recession. In many ways The Tribune has defeated these two arch enemies of prosperity by the unrestricted employment of color, banished public spending hesitancy, and kept virtually all of its machinery and all of its men and women busy during times of unprecedented unemployment. It requires many more workers to produce a paper featuring color than to produce one printed only in black and white. Every page of four-color work, for example, calls for four separate mats from the stereotype department and metal casts from this department in multiples of four. Virtually all through the Tribune plant, in a similar manner, color work provides for additional employment—more photographers, more artists, more engravers, more pressmen, and so on.
The Rainbow in Ink
Pioneering in the field of color printing on high-speed newspaper presses, The Chicago Tribune has met and surmounted problems never before faced in newspaper history. Tribune photographers, etchers, artists, pressmen have been provided with specially designed equipment, have collaborated in evolving new techniques to produce color in hundreds of thousands of papers pouring nightly from roaring presses.
Yet one other set of craftsmen has played a vital part in the working of this modem miracle of printing. It is the technical staf of The Tribune’s own ink plant, whose fasCinating function has been the development of special inks.
All colors, no matter how strong, no matier how subtle, may be produced by the proper combinations of the three primaries-red, blue, yellow. The theory is simple, the practice bewilderingly complex; for the ink maker has his thousand problems. Together with red, blue, and yellow The Tribune uses sepia or black in four-color printing.
The picture above, taken with the Tribune color camera at the Tribune ink plant on East Ontario street, shows a skilled workman at a three-roller mill, from which red ink is pouring. Beside the mill are pails of the other two primaries. These are the raw colors from which are compounded all the hues of the spectrum on both letterpress and rotogravure presses.
Color’s appeal is to the eye as well as to the intellect, whereas black and white printing’s appeal is mainly to the intellect.
Color, therefore, is the only medium by which the artistry of a fine painting or a splendid vari-colored illustration can be conveyed.
Color therefore is the zenith of forceful and attractive advertising.
Since the Graphic Section, which presents color produced and printed by the rotogravure process, is the newest of The Sunday Tribune’s feature sections, it shall be discussed first. The Tribune, as many will remember, has had magazine sections in the past that have been printed in part in color. But it was only when the Graphic Section was launched in early autumn in 1931, as part of a program of completely modernizing
The Tribune, that the first pronouncedly different Sunday magazine supplement came into being. We wish that we could inclose in this edition a sample of that first Graphic Section, so that you could see what progress has been made in seven years. Yet the Graphic Section of 1931, so different from the standard magazines of the standard newspaper, was a success from the start.
It was during the bleak days of the depression that The Tribune decided to reach out with new appeals to its readers, improve its entire paper, and put it so far ahead of other newspapers that there would be left no grounds for comparison. A Sunday magazine would help do this, so the Graphic Section originally called the Graphic Weekly, was born.
At first it was printed on the relatively slow speed of the Comic Section’s presses and its color pages were produced in the manner of the comics. Because these presses were busy most of the time printing those funny sequences that entertain the whole family, only a limited number of the Graphic Weeklies could be printed each week. These were not circulated in the strictly city editions.
But so popular in reader interest was the Graphic Weekly that it was decided to put it in all of the editions of the Sunday paper. This necessitated printing on the high-speed presses that turn out the daily and most of the sections of the Sunday paper. The Graphic, therefore, was increased in page. size and in number of pages, and combined with the drama section under the name of Graphic Section.
Obviously the next move, if the Graphic Section were to be improved still further, would be the printing of it in rotogravure. So on April 18, 1937, it was separated from the drama section and produced alone-still the Graphic Section—in rotogravure, its front and back pages in color rotogravure.
The Graphic Section represents development based upon a profound study of what people want to look at and what they want to read. It features an unlimited variety of subjects, historical, biographical; scientific, and what not. It contains regular features weekly, such as a part of a page devoted to dogs, another to movies, a popular science department, an aviation department, a beauty department, a food department, and a halt page, more or less, of W. E. Hill’s cartoons.
For its Graphic articles The Tribune not only employs a star of feature writers, but it also draws upon its other writers and reporters and its correspondents, both in this country and abroad. In addition, it contracts for special articles from outside sources, by men and women with reputations in the literary world. In the editorial art department are artists who are employed almost exclusively on work for the Graphic Section.
Edited and prepared under. the supervision of the Sunday editor, who has daily conferences with the managing editor and the editor, the Graphic Section presents features the like of which are to be found in no other publication. It was in this section in October, 1935, that the first blasts were fired against the deadly and until the n unmentionable disease syphilis. In a series of descriptive and instructive articles in the Graphic Section the cloak of secrecy was drawn back from this insidious scourge. What was the direct result of this first and a subsequent series of articles on syphilis in this seetion?
Today the whole nation openly is battling to conquer the disease!
Left: The new color camera in the color engraving department. The circular screen can take in a full newspaper page in a single exposure.
Right: Developing a color negative in the darkroom of the color engraving department.
The Graphic Section has put before the reading public innumerable forgotten events of history, dug out of obscurity the truths of many an event and episode of the making of America and many an intrigue of Europe’s dramatic past that are far more interesting and thrilling than fiction. No other magazine of general circulation prints as many maps as the Graphic Section. Many of these are in color.
The Graphic Section’s famous story of the Crusades, for example, gave readers a more quickly assimilated idea of those historic religious wars of the middle ages than could be obtained in any book or set of books, for the simple reason that the colored map which accompanied it traced the routes of each of the Crusades-all on one map, whereas historical atlases generally require three or more maps for the purpose. The double page of pictures in the Graphic Section does not in any way duplicate the types of pictures reproduced in the Picture Section, although for each of these sections photographs are selected solely with the aim of interesting readers.
The Picture Section, like the Graphic Section, is prepared under the direction of the Sunday editor. Printed in rotogravure, it reproduces photographs without losing any of their values. Page one of the section always is in color-reo productions of famous paintings, of appealing illustrations, of exclusive Tribune fashion photographs, of exceptional results obtained by the color camera. The inside pages of the section, except those that carry color advertisments, are printed in single tone-sepia ink. To choose the photographs for these pages a vast amount of study and comparison is required. Approximately 3,500 photographs are considered each week in the selection of subjects for the Picture Section.
The rich brown of the Picture Section’s monotone pages does not represent, however, The Tribune’s first use of sepia ink. In 1914, before it began printing in rotogravure, The Tribune engaged the actress, Elsie Janis, to write about the then new dances and to pose for photographs with which to illustrate her series. Sepia ink was used, because the white paper showing through the ink in various proportions simulated flesh tones.
Long before that the Police Gazette, which was given to illustrations of prize fighters and chorus girls, used pink paper to obtain the eftect of flesh tones. This old publication, because of its reputation, gave such a bad name to the use of pink paper that it has been more or less tabooed ever since, and “pink sheet” has become a term of reproach .
One of the presses at the Tribune roto plant running off color proofs of the Picture Section.
In The Tribune’s rotogravure plant at 427 East Ontario street are produced the Picture Section and the Graphic Section, so far as most of the mechanical processes are concerned. Type for these two sections is set in the composing room of the main plant and proofs of this type are made in the engraving department of the main plant. Aside from this and the photographic work done in The Tribune’s color studio, all mechanical tasks for the two sections are performed in the rotogravure plant.
The Tribune, as many readers know, has been a pioneer in American newspaper rotogravure work. The process of rotogravure, which is an extremely complicated one, involving printing from a huge copper covered cylinder with images etched in it rather than standing out similar to type, as is the case of ordinary zinc etchings, was invented in England in the nineties and perfected in Germany in 1910.
Because there were no rotogravure presses made in America at the time, The Tribune shortly before the world war purchased a press of this type in Germany. The vessel bringing the press to this country was in midocean when war was declared. The press was landed safely, but when it was assembled it was found that certain of its parts were missing. With German shipping driven off the sea, there was no way to obtain the missing parts, so Tribune mechanical experts set about the task of making the press operate. They finally accomplished their purpose by duplicating missing parts after they had learned every detail of the press. But in the meantime the New York Times began printing in rotogravure. Had it not been for the delay caused by the war The Tribune would have been the first newspaper in this country to print in rotogravure.
In color rotogravure printing, however, The Tribune absolutely was the first. In fact, it was The Tribune that made color rotogravure on a web press possible. It developed the process and designed the first newspaper color rotogravure press, beginning work on this as early as 1919.
On April 9, 1922, it printed the first color rotogravure, an advertisement (Oliver Typewriter Co.) on the back page of a tabloid sized section then devoted to fiction. The next week it applied color rotogravure for the first time to editorial work, a front page illustration of a story in the fiction section.
Two years later—on April 6, 1924—The Tribune came out with color rotogravure on a section of standard newspaper size, printing the front page of the Picture Section. On Feb. 3, 1933, color rotogravure appeared in the then newly enlarged Picture Section (enlarged as to page depth). On April 18, 1937, as previously stated, it appeared in the Graphic Section. The Tribune was first in the world to print color rotogravure on a continuous roll of paper.
In printing color by the rotogravure process a cop per sheathed cylinder is engraved for each color. In four color printing by this process one cylinder prints yellow, another prints red, and still another prints blue. The fourth cylinder prints in sepia ink what is known as the key plate. The web of the paper passing through the press takes up the various colors in the order just named.
In the etching department of the rotogravure plant, under the supervision of Gordon McDonald, are forty-slx workers, eighteen with more than ten years of service to their credit and three who have been employed by The Tribune more than twenty years. In the rotogravure press room, under R. J. Waggett Sr., are ninety pressmen and assistants, twenty-six of whom have worked for The Tribune more than ten years and ten who have been thus em- ployed more than twenty years.
Both the etching and the press departments are in the one building, the aforementioned rotogravure plant. Here are twenty-eight huge press units, built on the principles of the original press designed by The Tribune, and capable of printing 390,000 twelve page sections in a seven hour day or 1,170,000 such sections in a full day of three shifts.
Each of these twenty-eight units takes a rotogravure cylinder, from which eight pages can be printed. These cylinders, although commonly referred to as copper cylinders, are In fact iron cylinders upon which have been plated thin surfaces of copper. They weigh 1,760 pounds, are 70 inches long, and 42 inches in circumference. In the plant there are 141 of them constantly going through the various processes of plating, en- graving, and printing.
The cylinders are plated for each etching with copper to the thickness of 6/1,000 of an inch. Lettering and the deepest shadows of pictures are etched only to a maximum depth of 3/1,000 of an inch. When the printing from a cylinder is completed the thin plating of copper is stripped off and the cylinder is replated.
Adjacent to the rotogravure plant is The Tribune’s ink plant at 401 East Ontario street. Here are employed, under John C. Yetter, nine men in the production of inks for the exclusive use of The Tribune.
Outstanding as has been The Tribune’s success with color rotogravure, it has been matched by its achievements in printing color on standard newsprint paper by high speed presses.
This type of color printing is represented in two of the three following feature sections of The Sunday Tribune: The Woman’s Section, the Society and Travel Section, and the Drama and Movies Section. It also is represented in the many full page color found in both the Sunday and the daily paper, and in the color cartoons that are from time to time.
Color came to The Tribune a long time ago, but the modern era of newspaper color, marked by printing on regular newsprint paper on high speed presses, can be said to have been inaugurated on Dec. 31, 1926, when The Tribune printed a double page promotional ad- in two colors.
Away back in 1897 The Tribune published a special color supplement in observance of its golden anniversary. In June, 1900, it printed a three-color page in a Sunday issue. In October of that year it introduced a regular Sunday supplement of eight pages, of which two facing pages of jokes were printed in three colors. This was the ancestor of the present day Comic Section.
For more than a year, beginning in March, 1903, a special feature entitled “Poems You Should Know” was printed in two colors-the text in black and the decorative border and illustrations in red. In September, 1903, one of John T. McCutcheon’s cartoons was printed in color, and several times during the following year this artist’s works were enlivened with color, the last of that color series appearing on Sept. 27, 1904. With this ended that early period of color printing on news presses. For a number of years then color in The Tribune was found only in the Comic Section and in a magazine supple- ment that was printed in a similar manner.
The first advertiser to use modern newsprint color in The Tribune was a local department store, its advertisment appearing In two colors on Jan. 7,1929. Even as early as before the war, however, national advertisers and another big Chicago store advertised in color In the magazine section of that time. On Jan. 25, 1931, newsprint color printing was applied edi- in The Tribune-a two-color page one of the Sunday Woman’s Section. The first three-color high speed printing was a Tribune promotional ad that appeared Feb. 18, 1932. On March 6 of that year a three-color page appeared In the Woman’s Section. On May 5, 1932, the first editorial use of three-color printing by the modern process in the daily paper was in connection with the printing of a page one cartoon by Carey Orr.
THIS CLOSE-UP OF ONE SECTION
of the Tribune coloroto press shows the process by which the four different colors required by an illustration are printed in succession.
Unwinding from a feed roll, a continuous web of paper first enters the printing unit at the extreme right. In this unit the paper receives a single color, absorbing yellow ink from microscopic boles etched into the curved surface of copper cylinder over which the paper passes. From this unit the web of paper passes through other units to receive the other three colors-red, blue, and sepia.
Chicago Sunday Tribune
November 24, 1935
On April 12, 1936—less than ten years after the initial appearance of modern newsprint color in The Tribune—appeared a four-color front page in the Woman’s Section. The first editorial use of four-color newsprint color, using a natural color photograph made in The Tribune’s color photo studio, was on Jan. 24, 1937—an illustration for a Mary Meade article on page one of the Woman’s Section.
This newsprint color printing is done on regular black presses that carry supplementary color decks. These were described In a previous article. In effect, the process is nothing more than the adaptation of color to black printing, but it is not so simple as all that.
The color plates cast in the stereotyping department are attached to the presses, which operate at only a 20 per cent reduction in speed from the regular black press rate. Whereas in black press printing the press units that constitute a hookup for a section of the paper run at a speed of 45,000 papers an hour, the newsprint color run is done at a maximum speed of 36,000 papers an hour.
Today the regular run of color as printed on the high speed presses is superior in color values and register to the color rotogravure product of ten years ago. Color, however, also has been improving greatly In the last decade.
The Comic Sections, which contain twenty or more of the world’s finest amusement sequences, some featuring characters found in the comics of the daily paper and others presenting characters met with only on Sunday, are printed on a special new press of sixteen units that turn out these sections at a rate of 36,000 an hour. Up until Oct. 9 of this year the comics were printed on a press of twelve units that ran at a speed of about 23,000 sections an hour. The installation of the new and improved press has greatly increased the speed of the production of the comics, as can be noted.
The comics, which are drawn by celebrated artists, are transformed into engravings in the regular engraving department on the fourth floor of the Tribune plant. Mats are molded under the rollers of molding machines and dried under steam tables, and plates are cast in the stereotyping foun- dry. The plates are considerably thinner than those used in black press printing.
Color patterns for the plates from which the comics are made are laid in by a process known as “Ben Day.” Color patterns such as these also are employed in some of the adver- that appear in The Tribune and in the colored cartoons that are printed from time to time.
Left: Cartoonist Chester Gould preparing a “Dick Tracy” page for the Sunday Comic Section.
Right: Ben Day artist at work.
For most of the newsprint high speed color printing, however, a process first adapted to newspaper work by The Tribune and called the four-color process is used. This Involves the use of three plates in colors and one in black (the key plate) made with patterns similar to those used in regular zinc half-tones. A colored illustration or a colored picture is photographed with a camera that uses filters to separate the colors, and from the three nega- tives thus made and a straight black and white negative the plates eventually are made.
The Tribune is the only newspaper in the world today that does this kind of color engraving.
It was in April, 1935, that the first color printing from this four-color process was done, since it was about that time that The Tribune’s color en- graving department on the sixth floor of the main plant turned out its first completely satisfying product. Considerable experiment had been carried on for months before.
In the color engraving department, under the direction of Patrick Bresnahan, are nineteen who work exclusively upon this type of engraving. These men are a part of the engraving force of 111 mentioned in a previous article. In addition, as pointed out, are the forty-six of the roto etching department. The Tribune’s total engraving force, therefore, numbers 157.
The color engraving department came Into being at about the same time The Tribune installed its color photography studio on the twentieth floor of Tribune Tower. This studio, under the direction of Edward H. Johnson, produces photographs in color that are amazingly like the original subjects photographed, whether they be fashion models, movie stars, or plates of luscious strawberries.
The ingenious camera of the color studio is loaded with three negatives for each picture. In this camera also are three separate color filters, which define the basic colors, yellow, red, and blue. By a single shot all three negatives are exposed. The three distinct colors, each on a separate negative, eventually are transferred to the finished color photograph. Three extremely thin films, or emulsions, are laid one upon another in the actual photograph to produce the full effect of beautifully blended colors. Humidity and temperature control are vital in producing the color photographs.
Taking a “one-shot” color photo in the color studio in the Tribune Tower
Only one other newspaper In the United States-the New York News, an affiliate of The Tribune, is making color photographs by the above described method.
Color photography, high speed color printing on newsprint paper, color rotogravure, all the new processes, and all the Improvements in mechanics that have been introduced into or developed within the Tribune plants In the last twenty years to facilitate the production of a daily and a Sunday paper that are better In every way represent a great deal more than the difference be- tween cost and profit.
They represent, among other things, progress, initiative, and leadership. They reveal the disinclination to accept things as they are, no matter how nearly perfect they may be.
The Metropolitan Section is a feature that in its ten years of existence has proved a pronounced success. It is edited and produced on the theory that folks actually are just as much interested in everyday happenings next door as they are in startling events in which they have no personal concern.
Dividing Chicago and its sub- urban area into five news zones the Metropolitan Section each week brings to its readers intimate details of the activities of community churches, schools, civic groups, and other organizations. Its pages contain stories of weddings, anniversaries, interesting personalities, and the achievements of ambitious and idealistic people who are the backbone of our civilization.
In reality, of course, the Metropolitan Section is not one sec- tion, but five sections, although only one of these is found in yours or any one else s Sunday Tribune. The five sections cover news of Chicago and its suburbs, within a radius of forty miles of Tribune Tower, divided as follows: North, northwest, west, south, and southwest
Names are highly important in the Metropolitan Sections- not particularly those of famous or well known persons, but names of every one. Not a great while ago a survey was made to determine how many names were printed in these sections in a period of five weeks. The figure was 38,738.
Another article on The Tribune will appear in an early isue of the Graphic Section.