I am of the fortunate age to have learned a trade that is now, for all intents and purposes, obselete: manual paste-up.
When I worked at the Peterborough Examiner, I was a member of a team of 8 or 9 people who, every day, took typeset stories that spewed out of CompuGraphic typesetter on 4 inch wide rolls of photographic paper, trimmed them, applied hot wax to the back, and pasted the stories in the right place on a layout sheet the same size as the final paper. This process is well illustrated on the Cal State Fullerton website
The resulting sheet was then mounted on a platform and a full-size picture taken of it with a large wall-mounted camera. The negative was then sent down a special chute to the pressroom where a 3D plate was made on a platemaker, and the plate went on the press and a paper was produced.
In the modern post-paste-up world, when you want to colour a box of text green, you just click on “green” on your computer, select the paint tool, and woosh, it’s green. Takes what, maybe 1 or 2 seconds tops.
Back at the Examiner, if we needed to colour a part of the newspaper a different colour, we needed to use something called rubylith.
Basically what we would do is to take a sheet of ruby — which is just a sticky red film and use an Olfa knife to cut out a piece the size of the different coloured splotch in the paper. We’d then tape this ruby onto a clear plastic sheet the size of a newspaper page, and used some alignment holes punched in both the plastic sheet and the newspaper page in question, enure that the two were aligned.
Next we’d shoot two negatives, one of the actual page and one of the plastic sheet with the rubylith, and sent both negatives to the press room, where two plates would get made, one for colour and one for black.
Once you got good at it, you could do all this in, say, 10 minutes.
A lot of work to make a red line under the Sears logo, or to make the Farm Boy grocery store have a green border.
I assume that there are still places in the world where my manual paste-up skills would be of use. But not many. Newspapers are created on Macintosh computers now, and I’d be willing to bet that if you showed up at the Guardian looking to borrow some rubylith they might have to look hard for it.