Earlier this week, in what amounts to journalism's answer to a Civil War reenactment, the reporters and editors of the University Press
-- Florida Atlantic University's student paper -- assembled an issue of the paper without the use of computers. That meant writing stories with a typewriter.
Editing those stories on paper with actual pencils. Calling sources and colleagues on the phone rather than communicating over email. There was even a rule enforcing tough 1980s phone realities: in order to use a phone staff members had to be seated at a desk. And, in a brutally doctrinaire move, 80s music from acts like Cyndi Lauper and Cutting Crew was played in the newsroom in the name of creating an authentic atmosphere.
The project revealed how quickly the old tools of journalism like typewriters and dark room equipment have been buried by the sands of time. Before getting to the task of teaching reporters how to use typewriters, the papers adviser and editor had to find them.
"It was hard. Our adviser went on Craigslist to find one," says University Press Editor-in-Chief Gideon Grudo. "I went with him once to pick one of them up. The type of person who sells typewriters on Cragislist is exactly the kind of person you'd think.
Managing Editor Mariam Aldhahi added, "Yeah, there were some creepy old men."
Aldhahi, who was born in 1990, says that finding a dark room (no digital photos) was a challenge as well: "We made a makeshift darkroom out of a men's bathroom. We just put an "out of order" sign on the door."
Support for the project came from The Society for Professional Journalists South Florida Pro Chapter
. You can see the final results of the project on your computer, here
. (In an homage to a former name of the paper, the students adopted the name "Atlantic Sun" for the no-computer issue).