Immediacy is important in the news business. The faster we can get content to readers, the sooner you know what is occurring in your community.
When I started at the Journal-World in 1984, photographs were not compressed digital files that you could wirelessly transmit anywhere on the planet. Image data was an 8x10-inch photographic print, dipped in darkroom chemicals and often still wet when it hit the editor’s desk.
My first experience transmitting photographs back to the newspaper from a remote location was when I covered the KU men’s basketball team in the 1988 NCAA Tournament. At large sports events, most newspaper photographers used Associated Press services to develop, print and transmit photographs. AP staff would develop my film, I would edit the processed negatives, and then AP would make a print.
To transmit, the print was wrapped around the cylinder of a drum scanner. A sensor would pass across the rotating print sending analog AM signals through phone lines. Three passes were made to capture red, green and blue for color photographs or one pass for black and white. At the newspaper, the signals were received at an output device where the three scans were, re-photographed, reassembled and output for the press. From film development to one photo transmission could take an hour or more.
The Journal-World prides itself on publishing more KU men’s basketball photos than any other media outlet. So it was no surprise that after KU’s 71-58 win over Kansas State to advance to the Final Four in 1988, I was the last photographer still transmitting photos out of the Pontiac Silverdome.
“We’re closing the darkroom,” AP said. “That’s your last transmit.” This coming after I’d probably only sent 5 to 7 images in 4 hours. Compare that with the 55 photographs Nick Krug and I transmitted back by laptop in less than 90 minutes after a KU NCAA tournament game in March. Everybody gains with this technological leap. Readers get more content in shorter time, and photographers get to eat dinner before midnight on game day.
— Photo editor Mike Yoder can be reached at 832-7141.