By professional habit, I try to leave to the present and future people the real shroud of an age swallowed by time but reflecting with ruthless sharpness that life, in all ages, is a hard penance. The document is here referenced to the attention of those who want to read it. With the limited space at my disposal, I cannot display text and images at the same time, but the sample is enough to make you imagine the terrible work necessary to produce a newspaper or a magazine.
With the due permission, let us take a reader by the arm and introduce him in the newsroom where, at this right moment, the plan of next week’s issue is being prepared, so that he can watch all the hard efforts needed to produce each issue. First the menu has to be combined and the up-to-the minute information must be discriminated. The pages required for the photo report of the week’s events must be estimated and the illustration of the articles treated in obedience to that criterion. This illustration is not always easy. If it is a historical monograph, for example, you need to look for portraits and engravings which are not always easy to be found. The distribution of the engravings corresponding to each article must also be made and the space that the text and the whole set demand must be calculated.
Every week the photojournalist, regularly, does not make less than fifteen dozen plates … After the photos are cut, they are arranged to compose pages (…) and the respective originals are sent to the photoengraving shop. The reader watches the various successive operations: the first is the photographic reproduction (…) then the clichés go to the film section to be reversed. While drying, the zinc plate is being prepared with the photographic enamel which is put into contact with the negative film and the respective printing takes place by means of electric light (…) Afterwards come the necessary operations for the development of the image and its enameling with the help of fire (…) a paper proof is made (...) to help to guide the type pager (…) It is the first proof of the engravings that will appear in the next issue (…) Then the zinc plates pass to the hands of the half ink engravers who run this part of the engraving (…). Afterwards a second proof is made where the final result of the engraving is shown and the zinc plate goes to the carpenter shop in order to be mounted on wood (…). Then it is delivered to the printing shop where the newspaper page will be organized by typing it with the already written text, making use, to the necessary extent, of the space that is not occupied by the engravings. And it is a torture to make the available space not too big or too short. Sometimes the article is longer and it has to be tightened up to make the miracle of putting it in a very small space. Other times, on the contrary, the article is too short for the space and it is necessary to stretch it or add it. What terrible troubles one takes with such a work!
Then we go down to the press room to attend the printing of the cover and of the pages. A special machine prints the cover in three colours. The run of the first sheet of 16 pages is made in another machine. The second sheet is printed by a third machine. When the sheets are dry, they are folded and bound. So the issue is ready: the two signatures that constitute it are properly gathered and stitched to the cover. There is a pile of paper under the knife of the guillotine to trim. It is the last operation of the 24,000 copies of Illustração Portugueza. After this last operation it is ready for sale.
Thanks for your company in this brief return to the past.