The internet has made it a lot easier to know what's going on, but I still love reading a great newspaper, which is why we get the New York Times delivered to our home every day -- and why I was fascinated by this piece by Reeves Wiedeman in Popular Mechanics on how that newspaper is assembled, from the reporters to the editors to the people who run the presses to those who deliver it to those on the digital side, all playing a role in distributing information around the clock, around the world...
Tonight, like every weeknight, the plant will print more than 300,000 copies—double that on the weekend—which by 3:25 a.m. have to be loaded onto dozens of trucks. The straight trucks, which are already at the loading docks, can fit eight pallets each, holding a total of 14,000 individual copies. The trailer trucks carry twenty-four pallets, a load of 50,000 copies. The trucks will make about eighty departures from the plant by tomorrow morning, fanning out to other distribution points, from which the copies will be delivered to grocery stores, bodegas, office buildings, and newsstands from New Haven to Albany to Trenton. Booth used to spend his nights waiting for the trucks to arrive—he had a Times paper route in the Riverdale section of the Bronx starting in 1986, when his daughter was born and he needed extra income.
Read Wiedeman's full piece here.
Booth got here at 4 p.m. and will work until the last truck leaves. "Sometimes we'll get out at 3, sometimes we'll get out at 7," he says. "You're dealing with night people—we're vampires here." Tomorrow morning, most readers will think nothing of the fact that the paper was at their door at the same time yesterday and the day before that and the day before that. They may also think nothing of the fact that, at the moment they bend down to pick it up, some of the stories in the print version have already been updated on their phones and tablets, and new stories have been added, too: the score of a double-overtime game that ended too late, or news out of India that broke overnight. And all of these stories, the total daily and nightly output from all the desks at the Times—news from Washington and Ukraine and Sacramento and St. Louis and Staten Island and Mexico City, reviews of movies that open tomorrow and of TV shows that aired last night, opinion pieces, recipes, weekly sections on home design and science and real estate and style and books—feed a larger world of news that never stops consuming. The growing universe of digital news outlets includes a great many amalgamators, recyclers of other people's reporting. Some report their own stories, but it is the Times that provides by far the most coverage of the most subjects in the most reliable way. The Times is a monster, a sprawling organization, the most influential print newspaper and digital news site in the world.