Saturday, June 19, 2004

Overfeeding the fiche

Had my first encounter with that wily beast known as the microfiche.
It won.
I went to the State Library of NSW today with a list of newspapers I wanted to copy. My mission began well; I found the microfiche reels I needed right away.
A very helpful, friendly man showed me where to get a copy card, then set up my first reel for me, got me the best lens for the job and showed me how the machine worked. I assumed he was a library assistant... until a real library assistant came by to see if we needed help. So it turned out that he was just a very helpful, friendly man. Thank you, whoever you were.
I realised right away that even at maximum zoom-out I couldn't quite fit a whole broadsheet page in the print area and was going to have to do each page in halves and stitch them together in Photoshop.
I printed the first page without any trouble. Then I hit the print button to do page two, part one and that's when the wheels started falling off. Paper jam. Library assistant came over and fixed it. Then my copy card jammed. Library assistant came over and fixed it. She let me use her card to print page two. My copy card jammed again. The library assistant was nowhere in sight so I moved to another machine. The printer didn't work at all. I moved to another machine. I couldn't adjust the focus, so I got seasick squinting at the screen. Eventually I found what I wanted and hit print. Black page emerged. Adjusted lightness. White page emerged. Adjusted again. Black page emerged. And so on. I felt Microfiche Rage coming on, but managed to suppress it.
$15 later, I decided I'd overfed the fiche; I went home with only two pages copied (out of 100). I logged on to the library website and placed an online order for the librarians to copy the pages to a CD for me.

These are my two $15 pages:


The Australian
July 15, 1964. Page one.
I've been asked to post readable versions. Get an A3 pdf here. The pdfs are 2Mb files, so might take a minute or so to load.


The Australian
July 15, 1964. Page 2. Get an A3 pdf here.

If I'd known the fiche were going be so elusive, I'd have gone for page three first, rather than one. Page three was what Murdoch referred to as "the tinsel". Solly Chandler, who'd come Down Under from Britain, created a page mysteriously called "The Peter Brennan Page". According to George Munster in Rupert Murdoch: A Paper Prince:
"The third page startled expectant readers... It proclaimed itself 'a column that goes round the world's lighter side'. [Chandler] reproduced five assorted photographs, reported that the Queensland police had 'viewed' a performance of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolfe and wondered if the play would be banned in that state. 'For Those Who Trust The Stars'... appeared below Chandler's sputnik. When The Australian opened its pages to letters the following week, its astrology column was the subject of the largest number of complaints." Anyway, will have it soon on CD...
I've asked the library to get me:
1. The entire first edition of The Australian (24pp) plus the first letters page.
2. Front pages and random inside pages from the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Canberra Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Sun-Herald from July 15, 1964, for comparison with The Australian.
3. Ken Inglis' article, Enter the Australian from the July 25, 1964 edition of Nation. Inglis did an in-depth analysis of The Australian.
4. The Australian's 30th anniversary supplement and a Focus section page from the same edition (the journalists were on strike on July 15, 1994; management cancelled their anniversary party and held over the supplement until the following week).
5. The section fronts and five random inside pages from The Age February 1 and 4, 2002, editions + the Leunig cartoon page from the Feb 5, 2002, edition (The Age's last major overhaul was Feb 4, 2002; Leunig did a send-up of newspaper redesigns the next day).
6. Twenty random pages from the Daily Telegraph in 1927 (according to Paper World, "the Tele changed to a tabloid pictorial format with a fantastic art-deco layout indicative of the period"... until WWII, the Tele publishers couldn't seem to make up their minds about size; they switched from broadsheet to tabloid and back again a number of times)
7. The two Sydney Morning Herald pages in the White Space blog below.
8. The full copy of the first Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser.
9. The Australian and Daily Telegraph's election coverage from the December 12, 1975, editions (this was the post-Whitlam dismissal election; there were huge protests in the streets outside the News Limited building on the preceding weekend. The printers were on strike and some of the protesters tried to stop the papers' distribution).
10. Copies of front and random inside pages from 1944 composite editions of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mirror and The Sun. These were produced during a printers' strike; the journalists were locked out at this time and execs and other staff from the four papers joined forces to put the composite paper together. Page one carried all four mastheads. There was another composite paper in 1967. Details to come...




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