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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 (1479)
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 (3 days 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.
Janus 54R (1 month ago)
@Motherboard , you should do an episode on bowling alleys and the people who keep the bowling machines running.
MaxxRussia (1 month ago)
Motherboard you are so stupid
Dwayne Mattson (1 month ago)
While the art of repair is still very much alive, print is very much dead.
Kazmir Runik (1 month 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."
Fucked Gplus (3 days ago)
The time cant even praise thier own guys.... Lame
Mostwanted (8 days 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
needabeermoney (9 days ago)
And then we were all replaced by robots
isaacmijangos (10 days ago)
the shot at 1:24! amazing! great job on this
bennykwhy (14 days ago)
The webfed print-machine itself is a miracle. With engineering precision comparable to a space shuttle.
Christer (15 days ago)
What heroes! *hat off*
Tommy Boy (20 days 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 (21 days ago)
I wish they'd go on strike.
suavesoft (21 days ago)
The New York Slimes is a complete waste of good newsprint. Nobody is buying the digital version either. Worthless libtard rag.
Matt Orfalea (22 days ago)
7:35
rhythmandacoustics (25 days 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 (26 days 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 (28 days ago)
Eff the New York Times. They knowingly hire and continually employ racist people.
Bim (30 days ago)
Great machines printing donald’s stupid shit.
Mr. Lucky (1 month ago)
Respect.
Jeremy Winston (1 month ago)
Awesome video. A dying breed.
Daniel M (1 month ago)
Always proud to see the work of other skilled tradespeople.
Sean Fagan (1 month ago)
New York times is a dead paper i wouldn't wipe my ass with it.
ozepeda (1 month ago)
This video is the prequel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MGjFKs9bnU
Peter L (1 month ago)
These are real men!
Cody S (1 month ago)
give these guys some gloves
Dionysus Panther (1 month ago)
i wonder why women dont work these kind of jobs, force them into this labor make it equal
H Man (1 month 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 (1 month 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 (1 month 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 (1 month ago)
Under.. fucking.. paid.
corb (1 month ago)
the New York Times is fake news
aAaa aAaa (1 month ago)
550 secret Wall Street journal agents disliked this
Willz __ (1 month ago)
Shhhh! No one tell them smart phones exist!
Victrola 1925 (1 month ago)
the new york libtards
Asante Freeman (1 month ago)
These men are the heart and soul of America
Netty Voyager (1 month 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
ِ (1 month ago)
wow i dont give a shit
Hene193 (1 month 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 (1 month ago)
Keep maintaining machines so that NYT can print their propaganda...good job :)
A.H. Shukry (1 month ago)
@Motherboard Hale for that video. Glory and Respect for the unknown silent heroes ! Hats off ! 21 Gun shots.
Noob Nooby (1 month 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 (1 month ago)
honestly I am a little surprised that there is still a large demand for newspapers.
R T (1 month ago)
Used to be a time when the New York Times had a meaning other than leftist propaganda.
teh_r4serei (1 month ago)
yayayayayaya keep the tree destroying machines running!
Stev Rex (1 month 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 (1 month 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 (1 month ago)
Too bad the NYT is run by a buncha proggie hacks.
t sam (1 month ago)
News print is a dying technology. It will be gone in another decade.
onee (1 month 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 (1 month ago)
I was expecting the classical tf2 music intro as for all the other Meet the medic/heavy/engineer videos.
Gibbyace (1 month ago)
its always magenta
You Tube (1 month 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 (1 month 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 (1 month 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 (1 month 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 (1 month ago)
Where highly biased and unpatriotic so called news is printed. Shame on them.
Guy Person (1 month ago)
How can you instantly ruin such a rich topic with your terrible narrative?
OKjoey86 (1 month ago)
These guys are bad assess
justsomeguy (1 month ago)
How do you know a Machinist has had sex? He has one clean finger.
Cal L (1 month ago)
*whom
aeabottss22 (1 month ago)
5:14 Not an OSHA approved maneuver
Mike Day (1 month ago)
There is nothing cool or interesting about maintaining machines that pour out lies every day, year after year.
Zach White (1 month ago)
Nothing but respect for these guys craft. Its kind of inspiring.
Poon Slayer1312 (1 month ago)
2018 UPDATE Jeff Bezos bought the NYT and replaced everyone working there with robots.
Peter Bilt (1 month ago)
I was a printer years ago. I miss it. Miss the presses and the smell.
Emily (1 month 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 (1 month ago)
Well the journalists sure are not doing a good job at keeping NYT functional.
Shawn Lewis (1 month 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 (1 month ago)
New york times sucks dick with a straw.
skulz1974 (1 month ago)
Knowledge is expensive. If i can fix your truck in 30 min instead of 3 hours , its due to many past failures . This is the art of asking the right questions and the ability to listen without your ego getting in the way. Schools tought me what a wrench was. Mostly everything else was past on.
Marcel LeMay (1 month ago)
The facility is highly automated, even robots to load the paper. But their ain't a f@ckin robot in the world that can even come close to a skilled human to fix it. It will always be that way. Robots suck.
sam ram (1 month ago)
I respect these guys and also i'm happy we don't have as many newspapers as we used to, less paper good for environment.
James Neave (1 month ago)
Machinery is reliable but electronics is junk? Then why does it need repairmen? Great guys doing a great job, but I hate this kind of hyperbole. The very first computer, Colossus, was build because even though it was fast, it was reliable enough to be useful.
Adam Ruck (1 month ago)
3:00 - Just some more clowns who are only good for turning bolts and doing shitty welds. Completely ignorant of a huge portion of the job of a maintenance technician and proud of it to boot.
Dylan Gullason (1 month ago)
I think "machinist" is the wrong term for these guys. In Canada we call them "millwrights". A machinist would build the precision components used in the machines that the millwrights replace. As far as I know these guys don't use precision tools to construct the components they install. They take the parts shipped in from a machine shop and install them. So a millwright would be a better job title for these guys. Still respect the he'll outta them tho.
Mr Watto (1 month ago)
Where do you even start building a machine like that .... amazing
YaBoiIdiAmin (1 month ago)
Get some fucking gloves
Abigail Sockeye (1 month ago)
got to keep the propaganda machine running
Mack M (1 month ago)
Manual Labor -Conservatives + Bullshit Stories/Propaganda - Pissy Liberals = New York Times
LIX 59 (1 month ago)
Respect your work, however the NYT editorial staff is the most Libtard idiots in America.
James Ryan (1 month ago)
Communist propaganda. Hitler used propaganda.
Roach DoggJR (1 month ago)
"Modern stuff is garbage because I don't know how to fix it!" That was basically his argument. Modern stuff build quality is significantly lower than in the past, and that's a shame and that makes it garbage, but to call it garbage because you don't know how to operate/fix it? Come on!
Daniel Martinez (1 month ago)
Incredible how happy they are, given that their job is to deal with the biggest printer jams ever. I can't even deal with a printer jam at work. XD
Jan van Coppenhagen (1 month ago)
The old argument between mechanics and electricians... mechanics have it easier. Often their work is as he said, you can see a broken part. Where as an electrician has to be able to fault find and use logic to eliminate possible causes. Often enough an electrician needs to be able to fault find mechanical problems too. If a mechanic can not see a broken part, they call an electrician. The responsibility is then the electrician's to repair the machine. A blocked silencer causes a timing issue, a incorrectly installed o-ring in a cylinder mimics a faulty coil, a ceasing bush causes a motor to overload etc.... It boils down to this: What is the only thing a mechanical fitter needs in his toolbox? An electrician :)
SalandFindles (1 month ago)
And just to think. DRUMPF continually calls this outfit "the failing NY times." 🙄
Miles Sanford (1 month ago)
5:25 Better hope OSHA doesn't see this!
Spocko memes (1 month ago)
I'll get on of them for my office
SNYPERWULF (1 month ago)
Looks like a nightmare
Spike Spiegel (1 month ago)
very cool and interesting video
Anthony Zav (1 month ago)
sympathize with you guys - i'm a longshoremen and our daily conversation centers around how long we have left - the robots are coming.
Kenny Boy (1 month ago)
Another reason why print paper should go obsolete
Vega Prototype (1 month ago)
Typical New Yawkers
Darren Corbett (1 month ago)
Legends
Dr. John Jones (1 month ago)
Fucking Ny Times can't afford some gloves for the boys? #Cmon
FrontStage (1 month ago)
Great video.In Ontario Canada these guys are called Millwrights or in government speak,Industrial maintenance mechanics.And yes they are the Jack of all trades.And wow they can use machine shop tools to. And weld,program bots and on and on.
bonkers (1 month ago)
It's crazy to think that anyone would still read the New York Times lol
Coleen West (1 month ago)
....so just junk it and read it online. This whole NYT thing is a communist rag and needs to go bye bye.
kev3d (1 month ago)
Up next: Meet the men who sharpen Whaling Harpoons.
Tim Mosso's Sunglasses (1 month ago)
Propaganda assembly line.
Urban Classics (1 month ago)
Yes indeed inkpack
Urban Classics (1 month ago)
I worked at the post and courier in charleston s.c.. pay was extremely low...didnt have money for gas or food...complained and I was offered a greater workload after a guy who worked there for 33 yrs retired...more workload for 15 dollars an hr...righttt...
Accel Well (1 month ago)
I can't believe this left leaning media is still around I rank the New York times right there with CNN
Franklin Cerpico (1 month ago)
The New York Times, a former news paper.
Jason Moore (1 month ago)
Wow the yew york times actually has people with talent