Photos from the Vault

Throwback Thursday: Telegram-Tribune newsroom, 1982

Photo from the 1982 Telegram-Tribune newsroom Dan Stephens foreground and Ann Fairbanks background. Images for a handbook. Tools of the trade, Rolodex of phone numbers, calendar day planner, reference books newspaper clippings, pen and paper. Moose postcard was purely for decoration.
Photo from the 1982 Telegram-Tribune newsroom Dan Stephens foreground and Ann Fairbanks background. Images for a handbook. Tools of the trade, Rolodex of phone numbers, calendar day planner, reference books newspaper clippings, pen and paper. Moose postcard was purely for decoration.

The box-shaped building was a state-of-the-art newspaper plant when the doors opened in the late 1950s at 1321 Johnson Ave.

It was only the second time a building had been purpose-built for printing the Tribune. It cost $225,000.

The first print shop was built in 1873 and is the oldest surviving wooden commercial building in San Luis Obispo.

After the paper outgrew that building, it moved to various homes, including over a bar and in a former Ford auto dealership.

The Johnson Avenue building would not be as long-lived as the 1873 building.

When I first saw the Telegram-Tribune office, it was almost 25 years old, and the clock to demolition would soon be ticking.

The era of typewriters, linotypes, hot lead and rotary press had given way to a mainfraime computer, pasteup and offset printing. Demolition plans were being made as personal computing, digital page design and photography were taking hold.

When the building opened in 1958 there were no photographers on staff. Reporters sat at a horseshoe-shaped desk, handing copy up to Managing Editor Elliot Curry, sitting on an elevated space in the center.

After being marked up with a copy pencil, stories would be sent downstairs — in a vacuum-operated tube — to the linotype operators.

By 1982 there were more reporters, photographers and no need for the bulky horseshoe desk.

The newsroom was small, desks were jammed together, and there was no voicemail.

Everyone took phone messages on pads of paper.

Photos and page layouts still went downstairs in a pneumatic tube, but reporters had to deal with a crash-prone system that could erase every word of a story in a matter of seconds, unless someone could perform quick work to change the tape in the computer room.

The downstairs press room was so cramped that color was almost impossible to print in most page configurations.

The building was not disability-accessible, with stairs at the front of the building and no ramp or elevator.

Two reporters in this photo are Dan Stephens and Ann Fairbanks.

Dan called the almost windowless cinderblock building "The Pillbox."

The last one out each night had to turn off the buzzing fluorescent lights.

From linotype to Leafdesk to leveled, the building only lasted 34 story-filled years.

No one mourned when the building was bulldozed in 1992 and replaced with a Scolari's market.

The Tribune had moved to South Higuera Street into the third building built in town to produce a newspaper.

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