December 21, 2009
Colonel Robert McCormick: Ax Man
He may not have felled the forests himself, but at one time Colonel McCormick's Chicago Tribune owned Quebec forests that provided the wood to produce the vast amount of paper required for the newspaper. The 1937 (or 1931; it varies) educational film, "From Trees to Tribune," didn't win any Oscars, but it is an interesting - if somewhat dull - look at how newspapers were once made.
Amazon.com actually has the film on DVD for purchase and describes it: "Trees to Tribune is a vintage educational video which shows the newspaper production process for the Chicago Tribune, from the trees to the printing press, and every step along the way. Beginning with a detailed view of the logging setup of the Tribune, a map shows the location of the Tribune's own timber lands in Quebec. The film documents the transport of supplies by boat, wagon, and even sled to the various logging camps in the region. It also shows the logging camps, and how the trees are cut and transported to saw mills. The log pieces are floated downriver, with occasional traffic jams being freed by the use of dynamite, and then fed into revolving drums to have their bark removed. After being shipped to the pulp mills, the logs are cleaned and sent through wood chippers to be made into either chemical sulphite pulp or mechanical pulp. These pulps are then mixed to make the substance that is passed through rollers and made into newsprint. The Tribune had its own ships that transported the paper through the Great Lakes to a Chicago warehouse. At this point, the film shows a few of the editing offices, a scene of how they make an engraving of a cartoon, and linotype setting type. They make the stereotype plates, then load everything onto roller presses. After the paper has been printed, we see the process of delivery to newsstands and subscribers. Walking viewers from a tree in the ground to a newspaper on a doorstep, Trees to Tribune is a marvelously educational and informative exploration of Canadian forestry, logging history, lumber mills, newspaper printing supplies and production, and the operation of old newspapers."
The entire film is, fortunately, available for viewing on Internet Archive, but the best part, in my view, is the section on the Tribune cartoonists: