Cal Poly Graphic Communication students Sarah Eckberg, Julia Cross and Emma Goulden stand in front of the newspaper press in the DowJones Publications Lab at Cal Poly. Ms. Cross is the Head Presswoman – in charge of all the nightly crews who run the press.
Most of us say that Cal Poly has the only student-edited, and student-printed full-color daily paper in the U.S. I argue that it may be the only such paper in the universe. I have heard rumor of a student-printed paper on a small planet near Alpha Centauri, but it’s only a rumor.
The student news team has been led for the past few years by a female “HP.” HP stands for Head Presswoman (in this case).
Student press operator Sarah Eckberg mounts a plate for the Mustang Daily. The paper, which has a circulation of about 6,500, is printed nightly by the student teams.
It wasn’t always so. When I was an undergraduate at Cal Poly (1969-1975) we had almost all male students, with just a couple of women who had the nerve to join us. We cast lines of type on hot-metal machines, and we printed the daily paper (then three days a week) on a Goss Cox-O-Type reciprocating letterpress machine (it was horrible!).
Over the years, the ratio of female students in our program, called Graphic Communication, has changed dramatically. Now the program is dominated by young women. Of the 311 students currently enrolled, we have only 83 young men — 26 percent.
And, on the Mustang Daily production crews, there is only one young man. One.
Julia Cross runs the web press to full-speed in the press run on Sunday night. Because of a web break, the run was delayed by 35 minutes. But, the complete edition was completed before 1:00 a.m. Behind her is press trainee, Emma Goulden.
This is a snapshot of the future of the graphic arts industry professionals: 74 percent female.
These young women are up to the challenge. They are in command of the ship, and it’s obvious that their gender makes no difference in their ability to perform the important task of running big, sometimes dirty machines. (At one point in Sunday evening’s press run, the HP handed out instructions to a small group of students – all young women – who had arrived late to see the press run for class credit. She said, “Grab a rag, put some solvent on it, and clean any surface you see that has ink on it.)
I was in the company of real, youthful leadership, and I was impressed.
I’m writing a new book about printing processes and file preparation. To put your name on my mailing list, please click on the link below. I will let you know when the book is available (my target is Spring, 2012).