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My Paper Chase

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Not that Evans doesn’t wax poetic about “hot metal” typesetting, the old-fashioned, PC-free process by which metal slugs, filled with ink and pressed on paper, became the daily newspaper. Consider the author’s first encounter with Linotype machines: “[T]he floor was filled with long lines of iron monsters, each seven feet high, five feet wide, decked out with an incomprehensible array of moving parts – gears, pulleys, camshafts, levers, and bars. A man crouched in communion at the foot of each contraption.” If “communion” sounds religious, it is – Evans, a self-starter who battled British education’s stodgy promotion system, Oxbridge classism, and Northern England’s dodgy bus schedule to land his first newspaper job, is an acolyte of “the aromatic urgency of hot metal marinated with printer’s ink.” Why would a man who macheted his way to the top of Fleet Street – home to London’s “quality papers” for much of the 20th century – write about his calling with less-than-ecclesiastical fervor?

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