The comp room in 1995.
The comp room in 1995.

Family has newspaper ink running through veins

THOUSANDS of staff have helped put together the News-Mail and its forerunners for more than half a century but none have made it a family affair like the Gardiners.

Three generations of the family served a combined 141 years in the production department of the newspaper.

Jack Gardiner’s 48 years of service ran between 1908 and 1956.

His son, Noel, was employed for the same length of time, between 1936 and 1984.

His son, Graham, gave 44 years of service from 1963 to 2007, when the family’s long association with the News-Mail ended.

NewsMail Staff outside the office in the 90s.
NewsMail Staff outside the office in the 90s.

Jack became an apprentice monoline operator at the Bundaberg Mail in 1908, the year after it became the city’s first daily. Following the merger with the Daily News in 1925, he served as the senior printing press operator until retirement.

He spent the final 20 years of his career working with Noel, who took over his role one his retirement. Noel oversaw the 1960 changes to rotary press operation and switch from broadsheet to tabloid.

He was also in charge in 1970 when the News-Mail became the first newspaper in Queensland to switch to offset printing.

The News-Mail of July 27, 1970, was the first printed in the new, now industry standard method.

Graham did a five-year apprenticeship as a hand and machine operator when he joined the team. In his fourth year, he was named Queensland’s top printing apprentice in his fourth year.

During his time with the paper, he witnessed enormous change in the newspaper industry, including the change from hot metal to cold-type production and the advent of electronic page composition – and the advantage of such changes.

As an example of the way newspaper production has changed, he recalls one time when the imminent death of Winston Churchill was approaching, so special plates to print the news were made in advance.

GOSS COMMUNITY Press at the NewsMail’s Targo St office before printing shifted to Production St.
GOSS COMMUNITY Press at the NewsMail’s Targo St office before printing shifted to Production St.

“The plate was done in Brisbane as the full facilities were unavailable in Bundaberg,” Graham said.

“The front page, along with the masthead and the full-page printing plate with this image of Sir Winston Churchill, carried the headline ‘He Is Dead’.

“However Sir Winston Churchill lingered on for some weeks. and the sight of this ready-to-go front page became monotonous.

“Nowadays, technology allows us to have any local, state, national or world events at our fingertips in seconds.”

Since his retirement in 2007, Graham has continued his involvement in the media and is an active member of the Australian Newspaper History Group.

“I have always taken a keen interest in collecting memorabilia and photo albums along with many interesting news stories relating to all aspects of the printing industry,” he said.