I will enjoy speaking to members of the Ventura County Leadership Academy this week. The group, sponsored by Patti Blair, Administrative Officer to Chancellor and Board of Trustees, County Community College District, would like to learn something about Fillmore's history and of the Gazette.

I retain such a multitude of memories from the last 30 years that they could fill volumes. Those years involved the Gazette in the greatest changes in newspaper history. They affected this small weekly community newspaper just as much, or more, as they affected the largest daily papers. Technology exploded, leaving papers with obsolete equipment. The last newspaper I acquired in northern Idaho in the 1980s was in a little town on the Clearwater River. The publisher of that paper was dearly loved by his subscribers, a few hundred. This was a true "traditional" community paper, composed on a Linotype machine (like Mark Twain used) printed on a barrel press, and distributed by hand to hundreds of subscribers. The page was huge, and the couple of pictures were produced by scribing on a cylinder. Most editions were about four pages. I still have one of those tightly rolled editions. It contained only very local news, like who had returned from a trip, or who happened to be ill.

Bill, the publisher, hand-set all the type for decades. He had three machines in his tiny brick-built shop, two for parts and one operable. The machine kept a pot of molten lead ready to pour into brass magazines, one line at a time - thus Linotype. The keyboard was very large. It is an ingeniously complex machine which I would love to have today.

Then came the Apple Mackintosh, and the Mackintosh Plus, which could compose a justified line of type - on paper, which still had to be pasted to layout boards with hot wax. This (Mackintosh) was a dramatic (I would say a Gutenberg) breakthrough from the Compugraphic machine which required large rolls of film, still needing paste-up.

Well, I will certainly have to show up with notes to do any justice to the story. The extraordinary array of digital technology available today has proved to be both a blessing and a lethal curse for the newspaper industry, sending those ancient lead metal type slugs through the atmosphere at the speed of light.

Now, some say, who needs newspapers? Well, no online newspaper has survived by itself. I just read a story about the multi-million dollar failure of a New York online paper, which lost about $30 million, and fired all of its staff. It had lasted four years, after heavy financial support.

I've said it before - If our power grid is destroyed by cyber attack, or electromagnetic (EMP) attack, the man with a mechanical typewriter, a stack of paper, and a bicycle will be king.

Newspapers, even small ones, will always be needed, and will continue to exist as long as they are supported.