A thought hit me as I was banging away at another semi-newsy blog post the other day and purposefully inserting
the cheeky anachronism “As of press time..: even in a post-press age, it may still be relevant.
I have no doubt that much of the nomenclature of the old media structure will disappear in time, even as they wear out their comforting nostalgia drives. At some point “stop the presses” will be as much a relic as a linotype machine, despite that we’ve continued to half-seriously scream “stop the presses” even though presses haven’t actually had to be pulled to a grinding halt in decades (it’s not that hard to hit pause on a publishing software system); “copy desk” will probably stick around, as long as (we hope?) there will still be editors somewhere; “rewrite” is gone already; referring to a story in “inches” is sailing off into the sunset (though for some of us, it’s still how the default way to think about story length. Sorry, metric system); “A-matter” and “copy boys” are dead, “putting the paper to bed” is going to sleep, and “tombstoning” sounds more apt to describe the industry than abutting hedes. Good stories will still always have “legs” to me, even if I’m the only one chasing those gams.
I wrote “as of press time…” in the sense that it used to signify the news gap between the last period a reporter types to the time it arrives on doorsteps and news stands. Blogs, of course, have no presses of which to speak.
But then it hit me: the concept of “press time” is still valid in this case, because, no matter what, I still have to press the “publish” or “submit for review” buttons. This is significant because it still indicates a break in the ever-flowing stream of news these days. There’s still some pause that exists between a reporter’s writing and your digestion of it.
I took some small comfort in this. For all the leveling of the media landscape taking place, and all the firehose blast of information deluging you at all times from your lappy, SpacePhone, taxicab screen, neon downtown building-mounted news crawl, there’s still some point where the momentum has to stop so it can be sent out into the masses.
This is probably bound to change some day when we invent the truly LIVE stream of reporting. This would be something like Wikipedia, except that you’ll get to see my words flit across the screen as I type them, all the errors, typos, mischaracterizations and embarrassing pauses out for the world to see at all times. It’ll be a direct feed into the reporter’s work blasting the last needs to press anything ever.
Even when this happens, “press time” will still be relevant, because I will be pressing a gun to the internet’s head.