On this first Friday in Lent, we’re going to skip the meat and change the diet a little this morning. There will be a few Me/You at the end because it’s a long weekend and I don’t want to wait until Monday to get to a few of your questions.
I received an email that I published here yesterday and said I would answer it during some down time. This is that time. In case you missed it, here’s the question(s):
YOU: You mentioned in your last chat that you hardly ever go to the Post Gazette office any more.
Do you at least have a desk or office there? I bet in the old days as soon as the game ended you had to hop in your car/on your motorcycle/bike/bicycle/other mode of transport and get to the office as quickly as possible, hammer out your story on a typewriter, and get it into your editor before a tight deadline.
These days you probably just text or tweet in your story from an iPad. Can you shed some light on how your job has changed from the early days?
ME: That’s like asking how the world has changed. I started in the business in 1973 after college. There were no personal computers. There were no cell phones. There was no email. There were no chats. No Twitter. There were tape recorders, but for the most part when I interviewed someone, I wrote down what they said in a notebook for the most part.
We typed on typewriters -- portable ones away from the office, which thankfully had electric typewriters. The first “computer” I encountered came at the Indiana Gazette. Previously, we would bang out a story on a typewriter, give it to one of the typesetters and they would retype it so it would come out as a series of dots on a ribbon of paper – like ticker tape for those who might know what that was. They would then feed that into a computer, which would read the tape and spit out copy that could be pasted on a layout of a page of print.
The change for me came when they developed a computer that would read our copy instead of having someone re-type it. They would feed our story directly into the computer. The problem with that is, the copy had to be perfect. You could make corrections but they were so complicated, normally you’d just tear the sheet of paper out of the typewriter and start over.
That’s the start, and I’m not going to go into a lot because there just isn’t the time, and I don’t want to send you running to the Pirates or Penguins blogs too quickly.
I covered the 1979 World Series. In Baltimore, I sat in the auxiliary press box, which was the best seat in the house, plywood tables right behind the backstop where fans would normally sit. I set up my portable typewriter and wrote as the game went on because of a tight deadline. When one page was finished, I’d hold it up in the air and a man from a contracted service would grab it and “fax” it to my newspaper – back then, it took six minutes per page to send. Now, it takes less than six seconds to send my story by email on my computer, which makes correcting mistakes or updating copy a snap.
Until the late 1990s, I did not have a cell phone, so anywhere I went, I was out of touch unless I had access to a land line. In press boxes on the road, we would often order a phone put in for us at what I remember would be prices up to $300 for a day, and that was $300 20 and 30 years ago. At training camp, I would have a phone installed in my dorm room and the most anxious moments of the first day of camp would be whether the phone actually worked or not because back then, we had to keep in touch with the agents of those rookies who had not yet signed. We would be tethered to the phone. There might be three or four unsigned rookies and I’d have to call each of the agents every day and wait by the phone until they called.
I can remember the greatest thing ever invented was call forwarding. In the 1980s, one of the writers who lived in Greensburg had a swimming pool. A first-round draft pick still was unsigned and I was waiting word from the agent on whether he was close, ready to sign, holding out longer, whatever. In the past, I would have had to either wait in my room or keep calling him on a pay phone. Then I discovered call forwarding. We went to our buddy’s house to swim one night and I forwarded my calls to his home phone. They had a portable phone (believe me, not everyone had one of those back then) and they gave it to me. I hopped on a float with the phone and the agent called me while I was floating in the middle of the pool. I thought that was my greatest triumph at that point.
Early in my career, I worked for a small afternoon paper in Indiana, Pa., the Evening Gazette. I would cover a football game, come back to the office and write it on an electric typewriter and take game reports from other contests we did not cover and write them up, with statistics. At one game in Saltsburg, I had to walk the sidelines because the press box wasn’t big enough to hold even one member of the press. It was raining and I had to keep the stats. An old hand taught me beforehand to bring a clipboard and a large plastic sheet to cover it. I ran up and down the sidelines, keeping the stats, and taking notes in the rain. All the while, fans standing around the fence behind me were yelling at me to “Get down!!”
So, yeah, things have changed a little bit. Now I sit in the press box at Heinz Field – my seat is smack on the 50-yardline – and take notes. The stats are delivered to me by the Steelers, who have a crew who keeps them, along with a play-by-play. They even type up some quotes from players in the locker room as well as a complete transcription of Mike Tomlin’s post-game press conference. One thing that has made me a little busier is the World Wide Web. Previously, the only time I wrote during the game was at night because my first deadline was as soon as the game ended. Now, I have to do that for every game because not only do they want a story as soon as it ends to post on our web, but they want quarterly updates.
Back in the day (not that long ago), I would write only for the next day’s newspaper. No matter how big the news, no matter when it happened, I would only write a story for the next day’s paper. Today, the first thing I do when there is news, I post something on Twitter. Then, I write a story quickly for breaking news on Post-Gazette.com. My last chore of the day is to write for the next day’s paper.
That’s just a smidgen of examples. I could spend all day writing about more, but, hey, I see our time’s up and it’s now onto a few more questions:
--- YOU: Chance Warmack--a top 10 prospect, easily the best guard in the draft, and a LG to boot--falls to 17. He seems built for what the Steelers want out of a LG--he's smallish and mobile, but very strong. I know you've said you doubt they'd pick another offensive lineman in the first round…but isn't this just too perfect to pass up? The final piece to the puzzle? Plug him in, and now you've got the starting five for the next decade, all first- or second-round picks. Your interior three could be among the best in the league on day 1. It allows you to move Kelvin Beachum into a swing role, and it starts to give you the kind of depth you need with all the injuries lately. It "solves" the biggest problem of the past few years. Is it entirely off the table?
ME: They have so many more needs than a guard that I still don’t think they’ll draft one in the first round. However, if there is a great value at guard when it’s their turn and they see it that way . . . nope, I can’t go there and I don’t think they will eiter.
--- YOU: Should Mike Wallace sign elsewhere, as expected, does the compensatory pick come in this draft or next? And how high is it expected to be?
ME: The comp pick would be in 2014 and several factors would determine it – his production and his compensation among them – but they would also take into account what other free agents they lost vs. those they sign (which, of course, will be negligible).
--- YOU: In your slog this morning you said Harrison would take a paycut and that his agent had no choice but say that he wouldn't. Does this mean that Harrison will be on the Steelers 2013 roster? I mean he does have the option to refuse a paycut which would most likely make him a free agent... So what makes you think say that he won't? Inside source? And if you can't answer, I understand....
ME: I should have made it clear that is my opinion that he would take a paycut. He could refuse but at age 35, might another team pay him, say, $3 million to play for them? I think the Steelers could offer him that much and he would consider it. Again, that’s my opinion. He’s supposed to make $6.57 million.
--- YOU: I hope I didn't seem overly paranoid with five guys making all the money but the reason I mentioned 2014 cap hits also is that this will effect restructuring. I am new at this also, trying to crunch numbers to satisfy my intrigue.You, the Business Administration educated writer with two kids as accountants I seeked for knowledge on how they pull this off rather than a critique on my concern. Please take into account that if me and other PG+ readers also didn't think of this stuff, there really wouldn't be much to talk about until after St. Patrick's day. Interesting enough, you followed this up with an article on one of the five (Harrison) that I mentioned having to take a pay cut SO YOU ARE WORRIED ABOUT IT........HA!!!!! lol
ME: You really must learn email etiquette. That LOL stuff should be saved for phone texts and Twitter, where characters count and not here. I have a business management degree that I have never used, and my two accountants have all the number knowledge in the family. (I do know that seeked should be sought). I have trouble enough with the 2013 cap situation without concerning myself with 2014. And just because I write about something does not mean I worry about it.
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