Thursday, December 26, 2013

Employed as a Washington Post Pagination Specialist

That's a fancy way of saying doing paste up but a digital paginator does it on a computer. In the olden days of the paper it was done on paste up boards. The film was shot from those pieces of art on the boards. It was a real cumbersome process and revisions could be a pain in the ass. During my first couple years at the Post I was sent down to the fourth floor many times to look at the paste up board that were laid out on drafting tables. There were perhaps sixty workers down there milling around because paste up, like many of the Washington Post jobs, was a hurry up and wait job. The paper needed lots of employees because there was lots of jobs to do all at once to put everything together for publication. However, you might sit for the last three or four hours with nothing to do especially if you were doing paste up. You were in the union and what the Post could ask you to do was very limited.

Bob would send me sheepishly down into this union lion's den. I could feel the contempt for me coming from all directions. I was invading the turf of their union click, they knew I was a temporary worker and who the hell was I to come down and check up on their work? I was actually checking up on the ad makers work but no matter. When I would find a mistake the paste up guy responsible for that page would have to tear off the errant copy then paste up the corrected version - all because I found a mistake.

So I was happy the direction the Post went in regards to switching to digital pagination. Those sixty workers on the fourth floor spent the last year or so - doing nothing. There was a team of a half a dozen of us hired first to begin producing the paper on a computer. As more sections of the paper were switched from paste up done on the fourth floor to CCI pagination done by us more workers were added to our team. There might have been a ten of us during the early part of the decade after I was hired in 2000 when the economy was roaring and the ad revenue was coming in  hand over fist. But my how times change.

Every one of those fourth floor paste up workers took the buyout and went happily on their way. That was the sweetest buyout deal of them all especially with the lovely retirement packaged that complimented it. From there the offers to push out employees, including managers would drop lower each go around. But that wasn't a problem for the Washington Post just after hiring me and buying out the old guard. Their plan was working almost as flawlessly as anyone might have hoped for with a complex system like to paper to be switch over to all these new computer methods to do the work. Sure they lost a bit of dough because of technical troubles like when a font would drop out in the final copy. That's why Bob Tamoria asked me to proof the final pagination pages we produced each night. But the top brass thought this should be a duty only a manage should do so I was not permitted to do it any longer to Bob's disappointment. He hadn't been a proofreader for years and knew I'd do a better job. But the top had spoken!

There was a time when I'd fight you for my Washington Post and it only cost twenty-five cents at the time when I did just that. I remembered the incident on the way to the service for my old girl friend Lorraine Smith whom I lived with back in the early 80's. She died from a fatal brain tumor and as I drove to the Synagog I thought back to that day of the great newspaper heist. I was in good shape and was just finishing my stretching and warming up for my jog. I usually ran a couple miles. Many mornings somebody had stolen my Washington Post from my doorstop before I had a chance to get to it. As fate would have it that morning as I opened the front door of the Church Street townhouse a young black guy ran past with a Washington Post still in the plastic bag used to protect the subscriber's paper from rain. I wondered why he would still have the plastic on his paper while running - right when I heard my neighbor yell, "Hey that's my paper!" I was after him in an instance and began closing on him. As I got closer I could hear him panting heavily and I began talking to him. "How many miles you run every day? I run two or three most days." When I was only ten feet behind him he turned and threw me the paper. Then he back away with me calling him a stinking thief and lots of other insults as well. Then I marched back towards my neighbor's house to return their paper. The other neighbors had come out to see what the commotion was all about. As I walked up the street with the retrieved Washington Post they began to clap and cheer. That was the last time the papers were stolen.

But those days when Lorrie was still alive it was fifteen years before I was hired to be a digital paginator for the Post.  We were feeling our way developing procedures to follow while we used the new computers and software tools to make a national newspaper. The overall head of Ad Operations sees me making copies of ads on the correction board one day, for example, and she asks, "Tom...what are you doing?" I told her, "These late ad correction are the ones that are publishing in my sections so I'm comparing what's on my proof pages to these copies to make sure they are the same." Then she responds in the way that so many managers did at the Post who thought themselves too smart and believed that they had already created the perfect systems to use. "Well Tom," She continued using her polite Japanese accented speech, "if everyone follows Track-It then that would be unnecessary." To which I replied, "That's true but one guy screws up and doesn't and we have a write-off. This way I'm positive I have the correct ad on the page." She walked away unconvinced from the look of her but apparently decide to let me humor myself. In a few weeks after another big write off from one of these late ad corrections all of us paginators get instructions on a new procedure that we must follow where copies of the late correcting ads will be compared to the final output of our page proofs. Thank you Tom? Don't be ridiculous! I'm a cog so thanking me and acknowledging my idea as always was taboo. Only managers have good ideas.

I had lots of my ideas used at the Post but they were loath to admit it. The fact is I wrote their first training manuals to use Track-It for both Quality Control and for ad makers. Before I left pagination after two or three years to return to proofreading in Creative Productions again I wrote the CCI Pagination manual as well. But managers take these things and claim them for their own to advance their careers. My first pagination manager is a good example. After that first year that we had done so many new things and implemented lots of changes, our manager asks us all to email her with our accomplishment over the year. Everybody else blew her off but I compiled a three or four page report of Pagination's progress over that last year. Low and behold she cut and pasted the thing verbatim into her report to upper management. I know because upper management then put that in a general email to all Post employees reveling in our accomplishments. But I didn't mind because I loved working for Suzette. The only problem for her was she was saddled with some workers from the old guard who were of course unmanageable unless a manager was cunning and ruthless. Suzette was none of these things. She was sweet and understanding and like Bob Tamoria was great to work for. The Post had other ideas and removed Suzette and replaced her with one of the paginators, Dave. Eventually she was pushed out by the Post. This would be a repeating process in the next few years with increasing frequency especially for managers. I recently got word that Dave was fired too.

Another example of procedures created by me but adopted by the Post was the "Hot Sticker," for hot ads that had some trouble and needed to get onto the page soon. So I just mentioned that we ought to put red stickers in those ad jackets so they would not get lost among the hundreds of other ads not requiring urgent attention. Then, apparently the managers had a meeting about the idea. Next thing you know the head of Ad Ops is at my side telling me they held a meeting about my proposal but decided to reject the idea. I said, "Whatever...I was just trying to help." She thanked me and went on her managerial way. But within a few months the assignment coordinators just went ahead and implemented my procedure but they used hot pink paper rather than red. No credit for Tom though. That's alright. I was there for a paycheck not platitudes.

In those days I was like most Americans - a dupe. I thought the government had the people's best interest though I figured they were mistaken on their approach but not corrupt. I believed the Washington Post was moral and truthful. It would be several more years before I understood the gravity of the situation. That being the Washington Post was under the control of the CIA. As far as I can tell the CIA never did anything positive except what the agency might claim. Oh sure they said they stopped this terrorist act or that but nothing concrete that I could say, "Gee whiz! Thank God for the CIA." However the agency has a long history crimes. They overthrew Iran's elected government and reinstalled the monarchy of the Shah. The Shah of Iran brutalized his people for thirsty years until his overthrow in 1979.  The CIA was a vital part in the JFK coup. They never saw the Soviet Union breaking up of the Berlin Wall coming down. In fact I'd be glad to give the CIA their due but there is absolutely NO evidence they ever did anything good for America. Most Cuban exiles still blame JFK for the Bay of Pigs fiasco yet it was the CIA who double crossed the exiles and tipped off Castro they were on their way, where they would land and what the plan was.

After I realized the CIA was controlled by foreign banking powers I began to blog about their crimes. I can tell who comes to my blog with the site counter. A minute doesn't go by after I post anything that the spy agencies don't come and record what I write. It's automated. CIA or NSA computers automatically record my every word.

So I get word from an insider working for the CIA that they are watching me and recording what I say. During this meeting with the insider the bosses never said I had committed any crime. They wanted to know if the insider believed what I was writing in regards to the CIA criminal behavior and acts of treason. In addition they wanted me to know that they were watching me because the insider was never warned not to talk to me about this little meeting nor did they claim I'd broken any laws. In fact the CIA is supposed to only be involved in collecting information and conducting operations in other countries and not in the United States. So we keep having terrorist strikes on us even though NSA and CIA capture and store all communications. Why are they so concerned about what I say and write about while never actually protecting America EVER? I figure the CIA and NSA are the tip of the spear of the global banking scum right now destroying America from within.

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