The history of printing at the Gazette
JANESVILLE The Janesville Gazette is Wisconsin’s oldest newspaper and the only survivor of 57 newspapers that have come and gone in Janesville.
During the past 162 years, the newspaper has evolved as new concepts of mechanical production like the high speed offset press, delivered on a semitrailer truck, replaced the original hand printing press of the early days that arrived on an ox-pulled cart.
As technology changed, so did the faces at the newspaper. But a fourth generation Bliss family member—Sidney “Skip” Bliss—continues to lead this family-owned business that provides the latest news and information to 50,000 readers every day of the week in 31 communities in four counties of southern Wisconsin.
Print press technological changes
Aug. 14, 1845—The Gazette begins publishing with a hand-operated press.
1860—The hand press is replaced by a Guersey Press.
1861—The Guersey Press is replaced by the Taylor Press.
1873—The Taylor Press is replaced by Cottrel Press.
1889—The Cottrell Press is replaced by the Dispatch Press.
1901—The first linotype machine is installed.
1903—The Dispatch Press is replaced by the first Duplex press.
1909—A newer duplex press is installed along with three new electronic linotype machines.
1935—A Goss Unitube press is installed.
1969—The new Goss-Metro Offset Press is installed.
Reporting and editing improvements
1845—Local news is reported by owners Levi Alden and E.A. Stoddard. Other news is obtained by word of mouth and from other publications.
1848—Telegraph lines to the city provide same-day news.
1906—Associated Press cables are installed at the Gazette. Special correspondents in Chicago and Milwaukee report state farm and business news by mail or telephone.
1908—Correspondents from area communities provide news by telephone.
1918—A direct telegraph line is installed at the Gazette.
1952—An Associated Press teletype machine is installed.
1965—An Associated Press wire photo network hookup is installed.
1975—Video display terminals replace typewriters and proofreaders.
1983—The Gazette launches a redesign of its paper—the first in 15 years. It features larger newsprint and more space between paragraphs and columns. Content is organized into related elements while associated stories are positioned near one another. General categories of news also are grouped together in distinct sections to make the paper easier and quicker to read.
1985—The newsroom computer system is updated.
Early 1990s—Another redesign, led by John Halverson and Scott Angus, is launched. The Gazette’s typeface and presentation are updated.
1995—Computerized electronic darkroom graphic equipment and a new computer system are installed.
1997—The Gazette launches its first Web site, GazetteExtra.com.
2002—The Gazette begins daily computer pagination of the newspaper.
2004—The Gazette unleashes a bold new look as the “Choose-Your-News Paper.” A menu—Gazette at a Glance—of the day’s top stories features short summaries of stories inside to help readers choose and find what they want to read without sifting through the entire paper. The redesign aims to make things easier for readers in this busy, information-rich age. The front page also, at times, features a big news area (called a “window”) that resembles a magazine or tabloid cover.
1883—Howard F. Bliss becomes publisher of The Janesville Gazette.
1919—Harry H. Bliss becomes publisher of The Janesville Gazette.
1937—Robert W. Bliss and Sidney H. Bliss becomes co-publishers of The Janesville Gazette.
June 23, 1967—Thirty-one members of Local 197 of the International Typographical Union walk off their jobs in the paper’s second-floor composing room and start a picket line after a car loaded with picket signs pulls up to the Gazette building at 10 a.m. At the time, Marshall W. Johnston, then executive vice president and general manager of the Gazette Printing Co., is sitting in his office talking to the company’s labor attorney from Chicago. The union had voted a couple of weeks earlier to authorize a strike. The Gazette publishes every day during the strike that ends in June 1969.
Dec. 6, 1968—Employees of the Janesville Daily Gazette begin moving into the new Gazette/WCLO building at 1 S. Parker Drive, a facility that cost $2 million. Publishing begins three days later. This is the seventh move for the newspaper.
When the Gazette constructed its new building, it was built around the 22-story-high Goss-Metro Offset press, which was installed in 1969 and has been used until now. The monstrous 42-foot-long, 100-ton press, with more than 10 miles of wiring, was capable of producing 65,000 newspapers per hour. The 64-page press is powered by five 60-horsepower motors with the help of hydraulic pumps. It cost $750,000.
1982—The Gazette completes installation of a satellite signal receptacle on top of its building on Parker Drive. National and international news and photo coverage is transmitted from The Associated Press via satellite. The system also is used to transmit AP broadcast news to radio stations WCLO and WJVL.
1983—The Gazette Printing Co. installs a new business computer system.
1983—The Gazette expands into the communications industry by offering discount long-distance telephone service.
1983—Sidney “Skip” Bliss is named general manager of The Janesville Gazette and David A. Johnson is named assistant general manager.
1988—The Gazette publishes on Sunday for the first time in its 153-year history, making it a full seven-day-a-week newspaper.
1988—Departments begin moving into the Gazette’s new 4,800 square-foot addition, which was started in November 1987. The first floor houses corporate offices, while the second floor provides more space for circulation, advertising and news departments.
1989—Sidney H. “Skip” Bliss becomes publisher of The Janesville Gazette.