Brace yourselves, friends. The nerd fumes in here are about to get more potent than usual.
The Olympic Plant is the largest newspaper printing facility in the country (the pressroom alone is 55,700 square feet).
|ECHO . . . ECHo . . . ECho . . . Echo . . . echo|
But here's where the sads come in for anyone who was, is, or aspires to be in the newspaper business: WHERE ARE ALL THE HUMANS?
We were here from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. That falls right in peak production hours, because all the papers going out the next morning are printed the night before. And, yeah, newspapers WERE flying by on all sides. But all this action was overseen by a skeleton crew. I asked our tour guide later that night if the production side of the business had experienced as many layoffs as the editorial side in recent years, and he said this production facility in particular has only about 200 staff left . . . out of 500.
OK. Time for something happy now. And what could be happier than ROBOTS? Robots that shuttle 2,400-pound rolls of paper around (a job that humans probably used to do, but let's not think about that right now). YAY, ROBOTS!
|Staff: "Oh noes! We're almost out of paper." |
Robot: "HERE I COME TO SAVE THE DAY!"
|"Here I come still."|
The printing presses burn through about 300 gigantor rolls of paper in a 24-hour period. So WHERE do they keep all that paper?
|Jenny found it! Thanks, Jenny!|
|Each roll of recycled paper costs the Times $600.|
|This is the machine that makes all those tidy columns.|
|It's gone rogue! NO ONE IS SAFE.|
At one point, we were all herded into a freight elevator. And just when Jenny and I were looking at each other and thinking, "This is the part where we find out the tour was just an elaborate excuse to get us here so they can harvest our organs," we saw THIS on the wall:
Not to worry. The freight elevator was just taking us to the printing presses.
Now, I've been watching a lot of Firefly lately, AND our guide called the printing plant the Death Star of News at the very start of the tour . . . so it's only natural that I should pretend to be in a spaceship for the duration. And THIS part was the most spaceshippy of all.
|Can't you picture River Tam tucked up against the railing?|
|Only three of the people in this picture work here. Don't get too excited.|
We ended the tour in the distribution center and were once again reminded that barely any humans are employed here.
|Automated machines as far as the eye can see.|
So next month is the tour of the editorial building in Downtown Los Angeles. Those pictures are certain to feature lots and lots of empty desks. So look forward to THAT.