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Meet the Machinists Who Keep the New York Times Running

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As the world’s largest technology manufacturers increasingly move toward creating products that are designed to be difficult or impossible to repair, Motherboard has started looking toward the margins of tech to find the people keeping older machines alive and running. In the first episode of State of Repair, we visited the New York Times printing plant to meet Greg Zerafa, Jerry Greaney, and Chris Bedetto, who are part of a dying breed of machinists that keeps the newspaper's eight three-story printing presses humming and spitting out hundreds of thousands of newspapers every single day. WATCH NEXT: The Cyborg Beetles Designed to Save Human Lives: http://bit.ly/2gZajCf Subscribe to MOTHERBOARD: http://bit.ly/Subscribe-To-MOTHERBOARD Follow MOTHERBOARD Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/motherboardtv Twitter: http://twitter.com/motherboard Tumblr: http://motherboardtv.tumblr.com/ Instagram: http://instagram.com/motherboardtv More videos from the VICE network: https://www.fb.com/vicevideo
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Text Comments (1545)
Motherboard (2 years ago)
Despite living in a disposable society, the art of repair is still practiced on the margins of our tech obsessed culture. We went to the New York Times printing plant in Queens to meet the dying breed of repairmen who fix older machines.
JONATHAN SUTCLIFFE (2 months ago)
YOU STILL NEED BIG PRINT PRESSES, THEN...? I THOUGHT YOU'D HAVE GONE FOR DIGITALLY ENHANCED PUBLICATIONS...OLD SCHOOL. AND YEAH - PRETTY COOL. THIS IS THE OLD SCOOL ENVIRONMENT I'D HAVE PLUMPED FOR. THE U.K FUCKED UP ITS OWN PRESS IN FAVOR OF A MORE TECHNOLOGICALLY ADVANCED STATE OF AFFAIRS. NOT NECESSARILY A BETTER STATE OF AFFAIRS, THOUGH... YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF THESE PRINT PRESSES AND WHAT TO DO SHOULD THEY FAIL ETC WILL BE SECOND TO NONE. I COMMEND THIS ATTITUDE.
B. BLACKMON (3 months ago)
@Motherboard , you should do an episode on bowling alleys and the people who keep the bowling machines running.
MaxxRussia (3 months ago)
Motherboard you are so stupid
Dwayne Mattson (3 months ago)
While the art of repair is still very much alive, print is very much dead.
Kazmir Runik (3 months ago)
+Jason Koebler You're talking about a totally different thing from what the video spotlights, though. Those are mechanical maintenance guys in a manufacturing environment. For anything that's proprietary to fix, the manufacturing company either pays the licensing fee to let their guys do it, they ship in an outside technician, or they void their warranty willingly because that's actually the best option sometimes. Each option still requires this type of repairman, and it will continue to be like that for the foreseeable future. There is no tact in the statement because it casts one big umbrella to mean all types of repairmen. The guys in the video are NOT the repairmen being hurt by proprietary machines; the people in the mom & pop repair shops are. If there is a "dying breed of repairmen," then it's certainly not the repairmen featured in this video. For a more tactful statement, I'd edit it to be like this: "Despite living in a society of disposable goods, the art of repair is still practiced under the hood of our tech-obsessed culture. We went to the New York Times printing plant in Queens to meet the repairmen behind the scenes of the places that make our products."
Nathan Frey (2 days ago)
Only someone who grew up in a large city would call it the “art” of repair. Everyone else calls it fixing stuff.
!? (14 hours ago)
This is not like fixing a car, lawn mower, dirt bike, computer, house hold heater, etc. This is next-level stuff.
Peter CCR ENG (2 days ago)
I hope they can work there until the place closes down too. All the Best to Them.
Boxing guru (6 days ago)
Cool story! It reminds me of my own story. I’v owned my own HVAC business for 25 years and I haven’t had a chance to work on equipment for the last 15 years. A few years ago we hired a new kid and he’s been learning from the other techs. In the last few months he and I have been talking more and I’v gotten to know him better. As I’m getting older I’m finding that I need less of everything including money. Anyways I decided I’d take the kid under my wing and started going on service calls with him to pass on the knowledge that he needs and I just don’t use anymore since I’m running a business and and not working out in the field anymore. What I found out is that I really enjoy being a technician and passing on knowledge to the next generation. Funny the way life has come full circle.
Shawana Washington (12 days ago)
Talk about brain washed. One man used the word "repair person". NO. They are repair MEN. Did you see any women smeared with grease and ink in this video? Just like the NYT, more political correctness.
Shawana Washington (12 days ago)
Very ironic. These men are very talented and allow the NYT to publish a physical newspaper. Respect. Yet, the NYT is flagrantly biased and unAmerican to the core. Thanks for nutin Pinchy.
Memes n Shet (13 days ago)
Nice work I love this channel
Phyllis Hamilton (15 days ago)
If ever a documentary could be perfect, this one is. (I was a newspaper staff artist on a daily, from 1973-6, starting in the "hot metal days" and up til the first phases of computer-driven "cool type" production.) The pressmen are so wonderful, and so skillful. (And yes, they are almost all men, since the upper body strength required when something goes wrong is huge). And yes, I am a diehard feminist, and indeed broke a few barriers back then at the start of my career).
ryan (20 days ago)
I spent 10 years in middle school, high school, and college working on a freightliner with my dad. There's a real beauty and zen to fixing a machine that big and complicated. And that one guy's comment about it taking years to get to any kind of real understanding for what's what, could not be more true.
MotoOtto (20 days ago)
"electronic stuff is junk" - Why not just admit you don't know how it works or how to fix them...
outdoors Adventures (20 days ago)
im guessing youve never had to work on big NC machinery then have you.
jeff baker (23 days ago)
I used to print the New York Times West coast at the Contra Costa Times. I started out on a Goss Metroliner (No Mercy Press), but had the pleasure of running a Colorliner. This brought back dirty, noisy memories.
will mcch (1 month ago)
who cares...its the times...its a hit job on anyone that isn't a sjw
D Madd11 (1 month ago)
ah yes . . . the propaganda center that pushes garbage that will eventually drive my industry (manufacturing) extinct. . I absolutely loath NYT and their marxist bullshit. Nice try though. . . . also do you guys really need those high capacity fully automatic printing presses? This isn't what the founders envisioned when the constitution was written - NYT's logic
2enchant (1 month ago)
They should update to the new technology. That would make the work much easier.
horizontaljumper1991 (1 month ago)
They didn't machine anything though.
lpfreak1708 (1 month ago)
Not machinists. Maintenance mechanics
Tyler Steez (1 month ago)
My job is very similar to this, I run around a facility repairing old machines to keep them operating and making the company money as well as fabricate parts and modify them. I know exactly what that pressure to get something running as fast as possible is like as well as being elbow deep in grease.
64賀礼斗 (1 month ago)
how to keep fake news running!
Phil McCracken (1 month ago)
Aint nothing like working in a big ole web pressroom. Like working next to a running train for 12 hours on end. Loud, greasy, dirty, dusty and mad. I doubt most folk with a degree writing yellow journalism could hack it or even become a pressman.
Blc ME (1 month ago)
They should be in newspaper sometimes as a respect 👍🙏🙏
matthew mayes (1 month ago)
Gloves
Dean Guando (1 month ago)
The real workers of that newspaper.
belal mohammed (1 month ago)
These useless businesses should be shutdown. People can read words on their phones now No reason to waste energy, money and increase carbon footprint just for some hypocrites who refuse to search the damn internet
Aidan Marchant (1 month ago)
The printer needs more magenta
Fart Lord (1 month ago)
Ok these guys are amazing, but they're really highly skilled technicians and not machinists. Machinists cut metal with Lathes, Mills and Grinders.
Haziq Sya (1 month ago)
Thank you
Poogle (1 month ago)
Of course the magenta broke.
delusion (1 month ago)
A man without passion is not a man. Guys, you are the men that world needs! :D
Mato F (1 month ago)
GOSS ?
Michael Phelps (1 month ago)
Facinating... coming from limited offset press experience.
Swervingthon L. Gooding Splatt (1 month ago)
8:22 for "deadass"
Garret Gates (1 month ago)
I wish this was a longer video...
Mark Grassl (1 month ago)
personaly im more an ebook kinda guy...
Conreese (1 month ago)
Too bad its the new york times, looks like a really good worker too
Anssi Salmela (1 month ago)
Been doing the same kind of work these guys are doing. I started working in a slaughterhouse when i was 15 worked there for 13 years then 2 years at a concrete factory. You need to know everything about the whole plant and the machines, how they operate and how to fix them. It's a a lot of stuff to know. I hope these men have good salary and the people in the plant appreciate the work they do, because without them the plant would not run. When something breaks down they blame you and need to deal with people shouting and screaming about it.
Julian Martin (1 month ago)
we do very very similar work on Commercial laundry equipment and they're not Machinist there are more mechanics if they're not fabricating their own parts. Also I disagree with mechanical vs. electronic controls. Also....gloves?
Fucked Gplus (2 months ago)
The time cant even praise thier own guys.... Lame
Mostwanted (2 months ago)
Can't wait until this is all gone, We have tablets that show us news .. and in an Apocalpse we cant print or maintain this stuff anyway, its pointless
needsbeermoney (2 months ago)
And then we were all replaced by robots
isaacmijangos (2 months ago)
the shot at 1:24! amazing! great job on this
bennykwhy (2 months ago)
The webfed print-machine itself is a miracle. With engineering precision comparable to a space shuttle.
Christer (2 months ago)
What heroes! *hat off*
Tommy Boy (2 months ago)
Whoever dislikes this doesn't take pride in their work... I'm an AG mechanic. I take pride knowing my work keeps the world fed.
MrFreiheit (2 months ago)
I wish they'd go on strike.
suavesoft (2 months ago)
The New York Slimes is a complete waste of good newsprint. Nobody is buying the digital version either. Worthless libtard rag.
Matt Orfalea (2 months ago)
7:35
rhythmandacoustics (2 months ago)
These maintenance technicians are part of the people who are incapable of learning new things. They say they prefer old mechanical machines compared to the new machines which use more electronics and electrical components. Little do they know that Semi-conductors and its by products have made everything possible. Before semiconductors/electronics were used most plants used electromechanical relays and this meant more costs and made the plant not flexible to new changes because it takes lots of time and money to rewire and reconfigure the plant, but since the era of electronics, all you had to do is to reprogram the computer/plc and would require very little to no re-wiring of field devices. This is another reason why the printing press industry failed because they are not into embracing new technology. Digital is now the new thing. These "machinists" , which they are not by the way, can't probably troubleshoot a complicated fault. They most likely do not even know that most high-tech plants use laser alignment rather than just straight edge or rulers.
macroevolve (2 months ago)
These are American's (people) that are a benefit to the country, not the people running across the border that don't even speak English.
Chloe Hennessy (3 months ago)
Eff the New York Times. They knowingly hire and continually employ racist people.
Bim (3 months ago)
Great machines printing donald’s stupid shit.
Mr. Lucky (3 months ago)
Respect.
Jeremy Winston (3 months ago)
Awesome video. A dying breed.
Daniel M (3 months ago)
Always proud to see the work of other skilled tradespeople.
Sean Fagan (3 months ago)
New York times is a dead paper i wouldn't wipe my ass with it.
ozepeda (3 months ago)
This video is the prequel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MGjFKs9bnU
Peter L (3 months ago)
These are real men!
Cody S (3 months ago)
give these guys some gloves
Dionysus Panther (3 months ago)
i wonder why women dont work these kind of jobs, force them into this labor make it equal
Ruby (1 month ago)
To be honest, I thought about being a machinist, but I know you have to lift a lot of heavy stuff which i can't do. I like the industrial setting. It is very cool. I know a few girls that work on cars. I don't think anyone would hire me either since i am a women. I probably could only lift 40 pounds i don't know though.
H Man (3 months ago)
I used to work in a factory that had a lot of mechanical parts as a maintenance dude. I miss this kind of work sometimes.
oto169 (3 months ago)
Machinist/industrial mechanic/millwright/tinkerer/tender/welder/troubleshooter/magician ! You guys are a very special breed of people that have my utmost respect. As a licenced industrial mechanic/millwright in a very large brewery the machines and processes may me different but after 40 years in the trade I know exactly what you mean of the knowledge and tricks you learn along the way. We are the industrialised versions of " Scotty ", the only one called in a crisis. Good luck. I hope the Times is running long after you all retire. '
thedementation666 (3 months ago)
Its nothing to do with a disposable society. The reasons places like this shutdown and get taken over by new technology is no one writes anything down. Theres no manuals, no documents to follow. No instructions so you can train the next guy. Its all done word of mouth trying to get out whats in their head. And thats a garbage way to work. You think NASA didnt bother to write anything down and just passed it on from one guy to the next ?
Sweet Cthulhu (3 months ago)
Under.. fucking.. paid.
corb (3 months ago)
the New York Times is fake news
aAaa aAaa (3 months ago)
550 secret Wall Street journal agents disliked this
Willz __ (3 months ago)
Shhhh! No one tell them smart phones exist!
Victrola 1925 (3 months ago)
the new york libtards
Asante Freeman (3 months ago)
These men are the heart and soul of America
Netty Voyager (3 months ago)
the unsung hero's of every machine in society and never remembered the men and women that keep the machine running ! these people are more important than the managers the staff or anybody connected to the firm without them there is no firm :) there is no business if it its built
ِ (3 months ago)
wow i dont give a shit
Hene193 (3 months ago)
If one says electronic devices are hard to repair then they just don't have the right tools and education to do it. Computer operated device if done right will tell you where the problem is. Without a computer that can tell you where the problem is then it's of course hard. But then you are using shitty product or don't have the right tools.
User Name (3 months ago)
Keep maintaining machines so that NYT can print their propaganda...good job :)
A.H. Shukry (3 months ago)
@Motherboard Hale for that video. Glory and Respect for the unknown silent heroes ! Hats off ! 21 Gun shots.
Noob Nooby (3 months ago)
I wanr to see what happens if you put your hand at one of the sides of the super fast paper. How bad would the paper cut be?
OverZealous Maverik (3 months ago)
honestly I am a little surprised that there is still a large demand for newspapers.
R T (3 months ago)
Used to be a time when the New York Times had a meaning other than leftist propaganda.
teh_r4serei (3 months ago)
yayayayayaya keep the tree destroying machines running!
Stev Rex (3 months ago)
Wow! So very impressive. And yes, been a reader of the Grey Lady for many years now. On Sunday, people know where I am first thing in the morning. Trying to get through the Sunday Times. Awesome interview.
SoCalFreelance (3 months ago)
'Yesterdays news today' The physical newspaper model doesn't make sense anymore. Those printing machines belong in a museum. All digital baby!
t sam (3 months ago)
Too bad the NYT is run by a buncha proggie hacks.
t sam (3 months ago)
News print is a dying technology. It will be gone in another decade.
onee (3 months ago)
That is not a printing plant. That is a printing factory. XD But in all honesty, I had an internship at a toilet paper factory. And it looked pretty similar. Especially those huge rolls of papers.
Fishy Business (3 months ago)
I was expecting the classical tf2 music intro as for all the other Meet the medic/heavy/engineer videos.
Gibbyace (3 months ago)
its always magenta
You Tube (3 months ago)
"mechanical stuff are more reliable, electronic stuff are junk" he said, while I'm steaming his face flawlessly over thousands miles away without a simple drooped frame. Lesson: just because you are lazy to learn and understand new stuff doesn't mean the new stuff suck. I'm pretty sure people from 400 BC will claim that writing in a rock rock is far superior than printing press.
Yomom12388 (3 months ago)
Practiced on the margins of society? You're fucking kidding right? These people exist in every factory and all over the world. Tons of people still fix their stuff and it's the COMPANIES that don't want you to. You fucking people are idiots.
B Haddock (3 months ago)
A few years back the personnel department was touted as the most important part of a business due to the self promotion and elevation of the status of the department itself. In reality the personnel department works for the workers not the other way around. Personnel department itself makes nothing in the way that say a design, research or fabrication department does. Watched the decline of lots of companies due to this imbalance of perceived worth. Ordinary workers now treated as "pawns" or at worse "an expenditure" on the business.
B Haddock (3 months ago)
Very impressed by the work attitude of these engineers. Highly skilled. Great video as it shows the behind the scenes effort that goes on.
B Haddock (3 months ago)
Where highly biased and unpatriotic so called news is printed. Shame on them.
Guy Person (3 months ago)
How can you instantly ruin such a rich topic with your terrible narrative?
OKjoey86 (3 months ago)
These guys are bad assess
justsomeguy (3 months ago)
How do you know a Machinist has had sex? He has one clean finger.
Cal L (3 months ago)
*whom
aeabottss22 (3 months ago)
5:14 Not an OSHA approved maneuver
Mike Day (3 months ago)
There is nothing cool or interesting about maintaining machines that pour out lies every day, year after year.
Zach White (3 months ago)
Nothing but respect for these guys craft. Its kind of inspiring.
Poon Slayer1312 (3 months ago)
2018 UPDATE Jeff Bezos bought the NYT and replaced everyone working there with robots.
!? (14 hours ago)
😢
Peter Bilt (3 months ago)
I was a printer years ago. I miss it. Miss the presses and the smell.
Emily (3 months ago)
This reminds me of the man working in the basement at the paint factory in Ellison's The Invisible Man--about all those invisible people working dangerous, talent-laced jobs in the dark where no one sees you.
Vagabond Wastrel (3 months ago)
Well the journalists sure are not doing a good job at keeping NYT functional.
Shawn Lewis (3 months ago)
The only reason people don't repair their stuff anymore is because companies try and force you to replace your old stuff with new stuff and bring them more money. I'm looking at you, Apple.
Swazi Prince (3 months ago)
New york times sucks dick with a straw.