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Glen Froseth reflects on 61 years in the newspaper business

Most people are content with 20-year careers, fewer still achieve 30, but Glen Froseth recently completed the remarkable achievement of having been in the newspaper industry for 60 years.

5/10/16 (Tue)

Donna and Glen Froseth pose Friday during a North Dakota Newspaper Association Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

By Marvin Baker

Most people are content with 20-year careers, fewer still achieve 30, but Glen Froseth recently completed the remarkable achievement of having been in the newspaper industry for 60 years.

Froseth, past publisher of The Kenmare News, was inducted into the North Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame Friday night during the North Dakota Newspaper Association’s convention.

The NDNA convention was held in Crosby, and, ironically, Froseth began his career in Crosby as a linotype operator at the Journal in 1955.

Mike Jacobs, the former publisher of the Grand Forks Herald, was also inducted into the Hall of Fame during the same ceremony.

After all these years, Froseth said he made the right choice of a career path and has no regrets working in the newspaper business.

“It’s been a very rewarding career,” he said. “I’ve never gotten up in the morning not wanting to go to work.”

The former publisher and North Dakota legislator, has seen a myriad of changes in newspapers during his storied career.

The biggest, he said, was changing from linotype to a photo process, which was something new that everyone had to learn.

The linotype, which is a line casting machine, had been used for nearly 100 years and was the standard for newspapers and magazines.

Suddenly, the industry changed to photo composition and used what was commonly referred to as Compugraphic equipment in which strips of paper came out of a film processor, the strips of copy were cut to the proper length with an exacto knife and the newspaper pages were “pasted up” after the strips were sent through a waxer.

Froseth said by 1972, it was getting very difficult to find parts and supplies for the linotype machines and other letterpress equipment and also buy newsprint in sheets for the 4-page sheet fed press so newspapers were, in effect, forced to make the change.

“We were at a critical stage,” Froseth said. “The era was being phased out.”

It turned out, the Compugraphic equipment was faster and better. Three typesetting machines made it happen, at least in Kenmare. One was used for typesetting, one for ad composition and one to write headlines.

“Everything was done through that strip of paper,” Froseth said. “You’d wax it, then cut and build your pages. Then we’d make a page-size film that was burned to an aluminum plate for the offset press.”

He continued, “We all had to learn that process. We were all old school, but we adapted pretty quickly.”

But for Froseth, it was the linotype that got the paper out every week.

“That’s how printing was done in those days,” Froseth said. “We called it hot type.”

Froseth had been trained in operating and fixing linotype machines when he was a student in Wahpeton. He then spent 13 years as a linotype operator in Crosby before purchasing The Kenmare News in 1968.

He said The Kenmare News was equipped with two linotype machines, as well as a hand press and a letter press.

“It was heavy, hard and sometimes tedious and dirty work,” Froseth said. “You’d have to take solvent and a rag and to wash the ink off the pages. And after you set it up, you had to tear it down and remelt the lead to use again the next week.”

He added the ads were usually in a cast and hot lead was poured on to set the cast.

“Every printer had black fingers,” Froseth said. “It was all the ink that was embedded.”

As Compugraphic came into common use, The Kenmare News and four other newspapers had a dilemma, they didn’t have a press for the offset printing process.

So they got together; the newspaper and print shop owners from Parshall, Tioga, Kenmare, Creative Printing in Minot and Stanley, to form a publishing consortium.

It became known as the Greater Northwest Publishing Co., and still prints each edition of The Kenmare News today.

Other newspapers, from Crosby, Westhope, Watford City, Bowbells and Mohall,  joined the group and Froseth said it is busy all the time, printing independent tribal newspapers, a shopper from Williston, Nash Finch grocery circulars, and all sorts of booklets, circulars and other materials.

In 1985, Froseth brought the first computer into The Kenmare News, but paste up and film remained the norm.

“But it was different,” he said. “It was a laser printer process for composition instead of a photographic copy.”

That evolved into pagination, which is the standard today in newspapers. No longer are strips pasted up on a light table, the entire lay out is done on a computer screen.

The News switched to complete pagination in 2004 and made another jump when the digital newspaper image was sent directly from computer to press plates. That started in 2007.

Froseth has looked at all the steps as a challenge, a progression in the industry.

“I always looked at it as a new adventure, a new challenge, and we’d try to make it work,” Froseth said. “In the long run, we looked ahead because it was cheaper, less stressful and not as hard on our backs.”

In 1988, Froseth sold The Kenmare News to his son Terry, but has remained active in the newspaper ever since.

“I sold him the business but he didn’t take the keys away from me,” Froseth said. “I do mostly odd jobs and pick-up jobs with the in-house press.”

He said the extra time of not having to be there daily allowed him the opportunity to pursue a career  in the North Dakota Legislature. His first term was 1993 and at the end of this year he will retire and will have spent 24 years working as a Republican lawmaker.

It’s been more than 40 years since the end of the linotype but the romanticism continues. Froseth has added the linotype to the The Kenmare News Museum at Pioneer Village, showing people how newspapers were produced not so long ago.

Reflecting back on a career that began when Clarence Brunsdale was governor and Dwight Eisenhower was president, Froseth had one good piece of advice for anyone who might attempt to stay in a career for more than 60 years.

“In order to be successful, you have to have a great family and great employees,” Froseth said. “And the end result is to make a small-town weekly newspaper interesting.” ... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!