After 29 years of working at the News & Review (and owning part of it), it’s about time this paper’s most veteran employee got her long-overdue 15 minutes of fame. Tina Flynn, design/production director, started working with the paper toward the end of 1978, a year after the paper’s conception, and the ride has transformed more or less from a bumpy wooden roller coaster to a smoother steel speedster. Still, Wednesday mornings are hectic. Editors rush to meet deadlines, but then it’s Flynn’s job to meet the paper’s final deadline by placing stories and ads in their place, then sending them to the Paradise Post for printing. The job entails a certain amount of stress, to say the least. But the stress doesn’t come close to the gratification of seeing the paper come together into something new and fresh each week.
Describe what you do each week.
I’m the production manager and art director, so I’m the design/production director. As production manager, I’m responsible for physically getting the paper to the printer, as error free as possible. And I have a lot of help with that. We have 30 story elements and 125 ads a week that all have to be checked. The design part of it is to try to make the paper as visually appealing as we can.
What’s your most memorable moment at the paper?
Really, it was the first five years. It was tumultuous, a roller coaster ride. We were a collective. Everyone decided everything even though no one was an expert on anything. Everyone was dedicated and worked for very little or no pay. We thought we were doing something really exciting in Chico. Then in 1980 the AAN [Association for Alternative Newsweeklies] convention was in San Francisco, and we saw there were all these other papers doing the same thing. We didn’t have money to pay for the entry fee, so we had to crash it. They [AAN] were impressed with the writing and how it [the CN&R] looked, and we were voted in as members.
What’s changed since the early days?
The equipment was big, heavy, expensive and produced toxic waste—photographic chemicals—that had to be discarded properly. No PCs. We had a production staff of eight and about five typesetters. Do you know what a typesetter is? They worked three- to four-hour shifts, because that’s as long as you could work, retyping copy into a machine. We had a huge darkroom, and the whole process was very labor-intensive. Now I have four people. We do the whole thing.
Since the news editor, Bob Speer, set you up for this—do you have any funny stories about him?
I have a lot of fond memories of past members, including Bob. I had one gentleman who wanted us to design and print traveler’s checks. I told him, “I think that’s counterfeiting.” But Bob, he’s had various hairstyles over the years. In early photos we joke that he looked like Charles Manson.