For example, the world of journalism is very, very low budget. In my short time at a public company that literally wipes its ass with money, I had become spoiled expecting speedy Internet connections, top of the line laptops, and attentive and capable technical support. It was like Christmas everyday in corporate-land, where 19 inch flat screens were as abundant as back hair at an Italian restaurant.
Oh sure, I was first dazzled by this display of technology. I wanted a digital camera and "poof" I got one. I needed a $1,000 software program to do my job better and "voila" my wish was granted. This was all very new to me and at first I thought I may suffer a mild stroke from the shock of it all. But, as is oh so often true in life, I got used to my new found benefactor and soon expected these shiny new gadgets and grew used to them being part of my every day life.
Then I went back to newspapers - and back to the stone age.
Most newspapers are cheap and stingy, which means they try to suck the very last gigabyte out of each and every aspect of their technology.
For example, my computer at work crashes whenever I go to a Web site that has anything more than your basic words and simple pictures. If anything flashes, scrolls or makes sound, it begins making a whirring and coughing sound and then shuts itself off, much in the same way I shut down when anyone mentions that I should hurry up and have a baby.
I went to our tech guy about this problem (the computer, not my reproductive choices). He is a testy man who is convinced that everyone else at the newspaper is a moron because we've never been to a Star Trek convention. His typical response to a tech call is "Did you break it again?"
He told me that the problem was the Internet's fault - these damn web sites nowadays ... trying to be cool and hip and grab people's attention with animation and design. They don't need all that crap, he said, and it can only lead to trouble. I shouldn't even be visiting these sites. They are just bad for me. No matter that I work at a newspaper and need to check facts, research issues, and actually do my job.
He then chastised me because I had two operations open at one time. I couldn't expect to actually work in a word document and surf the Internet at the same time. What was I thinking? And was that a PICTURE that I downloaded to my desktop? What the hell was I trying to do? Blow up the damn building?
He also told me that the two sheets of paper I had carelessly placed on top of my computer tower was most likely crushing the fragile innards of the machine. He rolled his eyes dramatically and told me to try not to touch the computer ever again.
But it just doesn't stop with our computer systems. Our printer actually sounds like there is a geriatric hamster operating the rollers. Our copy machine makes copies so blurry you would swear you had just drank a fifth of tequila before reading them. And if you want to copy more than 10 copies at a time, the machine typically jams and refuses to work the rest of the day.
But perhaps the worst example of the cheapness of our paper comes from our microfiche machine, which broke about six months ago. The machine is necessary to view all our old editions that date back from 1999. Instead of replacing the machine, the tech department suggested using a magnifying glass and a flashlight to view the old film. We wouldn't want to get too spoiled, you know.
I'm just hoping that if my calculator breaks that they won't make me use an abacus, or that if something happens to the phones we won't have to resort to cans and string or smoke signals. Soon we may be chiseling out the morning edition on tablets. We just need to work out delivery.