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Video offers insight into life at the Coventry Telegraph in 1991

By Zainab Mahmood

The Coventry Telegraph has unearthed a half-hour-long documentary showing a day in the life of one of its print editions in 1991.

The documentary, narrated by Stuart Linnell, was origianlly aired by Coventry Cable TV.

With not a single person of colour and only one woman with a significant role, the size of the computers is not the only aspect of the video that may surprise modern viewers.

The film shows female crime reporter Sue Lary heading to the police station first thing in the morning to receive updates on local incidents, later returning to the Telegraph’s office to work on her stories.

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With no website to think about, the crime she was alerted to from the night before – a robbery at a Tandy store –  was considered for that afternoon’s edition in the mid morning editors’ meeting.

Today the Coventry Telegraph, in common with most other former evening newspapers, only publishes one edition which is available first thing in the morning.

The depiction of the print production process underlines the extent to which local newspapers were a big industry.

Manual labourers were filmed lifting huge rolls of newsprint.

There were typesetters and a pre-press team consisting of cutters meticulously putting together the print layout to be photographed.

Alan Denyer, who posted the video, was given a VHS copy of the documentary by a former member of the print room staff.

The Coventry Telegraph said that in 1991 it sold around 90,000 copies a day printed at its own printing press on Corporation Street. Now it sells around 15,000 copies per day in print and has 98,000 daily readers online.

In the video staff talk with pride about how the operation (which seems arcane to modern eyes) was at the cutting edge of new media technology.

Then editor Neil Benson is among those interviewed.

Benson still works for Trinity Mirror today, and has just been appointed as chairman of the Editors’ Code Committee – the body which writes the set of rules upheld by press regulator IPSO.


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