Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Trees to Paper

In the modern age how newspapers are made seems like ancient history. We it actually is but the process is interesting none the less. In watching this instructional film from 1937 sponsored by the Chicago Tribune consider all of the environmental factors that went into the morning paper.

Trees, energy and manual labor were key ingredients in this critical industry in the 20th century.

The Chicago Tribune was one of the largest newspapers in the country. When the Tribune commissioned its new home, its daily circulation was nearly half a million and 827,000 on Sundays, and by 1937, when "Trees to Tribunes" was produced, the paper had a daily circulation of 833,000 and Sunday circulation of more than a million.

The film takes the viewer on a tour of the entire manufacturing and editing process, from the company-owned timberlands of Quebec, to the shores of Lake Michigan, and finally to the Tribune Tower newsrooms and the paper's printing plant.

Trees to Tribune is a vintage educational video which shows the way the newspaper production process for the Chicago Tribune, from the trees to the printing press, and every step along the way. Beginning with a detailed view of the logging setup of the Tribune, a map shows the location of the Tribune's own timber lands in Quebec. The film documents the transport of supplies by boat, wagon, and even sled to the various logging camps in the region. It also shows the logging camps, and how the trees are cut and transported to saw mills. The log pieces are floated downriver, with occasional traffic jams being freed by the use of dynamite, and then fed into revolving drums to have their bark removed. After being shipped to the pulp mills, the logs are cleaned and sent through wood chippers to be made into either chemical sulphite pulp or mechanical pulp. These pulps are then mixed to make the substance that is passed through rollers and made into newsprint. The Tribune had its own ships that transported the paper through the Great Lakes to a Chicago warehouse. At this point, the film shows a few of the editing offices, a scene of how they make an engraving of a cartoon, and linotype setting type. They make the stereotype plates, then load everything onto roller presses. After the paper has been printed, we see the process of delivery to newsstands and subscribers. Walking viewers from a tree in the ground to a newspaper on a doorstep, Trees to Tribune is a marvelously educational and informative exploration of Canadian forestry, logging history, lumber mills, newspaper printing supplies and production, and the operation of old newspapers.

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