Reporters Through the Ages: Tom Temin and Mitch Klaif
by Kristin Grant and Bryanne McDonough | published Apr. 27th, 2018
After 67 years on campus, Reporter has seen hundreds of employees graduate. Some alumni have gone on to work in the media industry, whereas others' careers have taken them in different directions. Mitch Klaif and Tom Temin are two such alumni who utilize the skills they gained while working for Reporter in their daily professional lives. In celebration of Imagine RIT, Klaif and Temin took a moment to reflect on their time working for the magazine.
For Time Warner CIO and 1979 graduate Mitch Klaif, newspapers have been a lifelong passion. While growing up in New Jersey, he consumed all forms of print media he could get his hands on — whether that be the school’s yearbook, magazine or newspaper.
“When I analyze why I think I liked printing as a kid, I think it’s because it’s a powerful medium. You’re informing people,” he said.
When college rolled around, Klaif knew that he wanted to pursue a career in the print industry, and that RIT’s program in Printing Management was where he wanted to do it. Unfortunately, his parents did not agree, so Klaif begrudgingly went to Syracuse University instead.
After one unhappy year, Klaif convinced his parents to allow him to transfer to RIT. Practically the moment that he set foot on campus, he went straight away to the Reporter office.
“My first day in Rochester, I remember I was in the Student Union, and I went downstairs to the Reporter Office and ran face to face into the editor in chief,” Klaif recalled. “And I said, ‘I just arrived, and I know a lot about the production of periodicals.’ And he said, ‘Great! You can start tonight.’”
Just like that, Reporter became a very integral part of Klaif’s life. Between school work and the magazine, Klaif reported there was little room for anything else. Despite the time commitment, he still looks back on his time at Reporter with great fondness.
“To me, it meant so much. I have fond memories of the people I worked with,” he said. “I think that people with passion for something always have good camaraderie.”
Unlike a lot of Reporter staff, Klaif was less interested in writing and editing. Instead, he was fascinated by the publication process.
“I remember when I was deputy editor, I wrote one article about the potato famine in Upstate New York. I have that story somewhere, and boy is that writing horrible,” he said, laughing. “It just wasn’t me. My friend was more the editorial side and I handled the business aspects and production.”
Back in Klaif’s day, Reporter was printed right on campus in the Graphic Arts Research Center (GARC), located where the School of Film and Animation Green Screen Studio is today. Before the advent of computers, Klaif recalls that much of the printing procedure was very tactile in nature.
“The process back then was completely different — it was a very manual process. It required a lot of technical skills — setting type, putting boxes around photos with black tape ... There was no Photoshop, Illustrator or Indesign,” he said.
Reporter was also a weekly print publication back then, unlike today’s mixture of monthly print and daily online content. Every week, the Reporter staff would have to deliver the planned publication to GARC by a specific hour, or risk not having a magazine for that week.
More often than not, this limited time frame would generate quite the time crunch. That being said, Klaif reported that these tight deadlines would often bring the staff together in remarkable ways.
“My favorite memories have to be going to Jay’s Diner when we closed the magazine each week,” he said. “That usually wouldn’t happen until the early morning hours.”
Some weeks that deadline would be more challenging to meet than others. Klaif recalled one instance in particular when the university administration tried to intervene with the magazine’s publication.
“I don’t even remember what it was about, but it had to do with some sort of cover-up concept. They told us, ‘You are not printing an all-black cover,’ and we were like ‘yes we are,’ and they were like ‘no you’re not.’ I seem to recall that we had an advisor, but we were completely left alone,” Klaif said.
After a lot of back-and-forth, the staff of Reporter ultimately won out. The controversial issue hit the stands that very week. Klaif recalls this moment as being one of the most impactful of his Reporter career.
“That was a fond memory to know that you can prevail, even if you’re just students,” he said. “It was good learning experience to see that truth and transparency wins out.”
It was lessons like these that Klaif brought with him into his professional career. Almost immediately after graduation, Klaif was offered a job at Dow Jones — the company responsible for the Wall Street Journal — as a junior manager for their newspaper plant operations.
Klaif worked for Dow Jones for about 18 years, building a vast career that included titles such as deputy director of International Group of Information Services and general manager of the Far East Review. After a brief time as CEO of a small startup called VIAM Communications Group, Klaif ultimately joined Time Inc. in 1997 before transferring over to Time Warner Inc., where he continues to work to this day.
After nearly 40 years in the media industry, Klaif has seen a lot of changes when it comes to the dissemination of information. Whenever he picks up a copy of today’s Reporter, he often sees those industry changes reflected in the magazine.
“At Time Warner, we’ve really had to change our print content,” he said. “We’ve switched away from just news. It’s a very challenging field to be in, and I can imagine it’s very challenging to maintain on campus too.”
When Klaif was at school, there was no social media to speak of — no Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Finding out up-to-date information was much more challenging than it is today. For that reason, Reporter played a crucial role in the delivering news to the student body.
“If you wanted to find something to do on the weekends, and you weren’t just looking at the bulletin board, you would look forward to the morning Reporter was put out on campus because that told you what concerts [were happening], what stores were having sales. There was no other medium,” said Klaif.
That being said, Klaif said that the magazine has continued to evolve in ways he couldn’t have foreseen either.
“I see some stuff in Reporter nowadays that I wonder how you got away with — some stuff that even we wouldn’t have thought about printing. I think it shows the power of the press, and how important media is,” he said.
At the end of the day, Klaif has one piece of advice for all current and future Reporter staff.
“I think the people who work at Reporter should recognize the power they have in their hands,” he said. “If you use it wisely, it can lead to even more accomplishments.”
For most of us, the experiences that prepare us for future careers will not be lectures we sat in or books we read. At RIT, education is about experience, whether it be on co-op, at an internship, in a lab or at an on-campus job. Tom Temin confirms this. He never took a journalism class at RIT, but he has worked in the field for over forty years.
“Reporter was the experience that gave me a career more than the photography school,” Temin said.
Temin graduated from RIT in 1977 with a degree in photography. For four years he worked at Reporter as an illustrator, writer, news editor and editor in chief.
“I’ve had some good jobs, but I still consider it one of the high points of my whole life, the four years I spent at Reporter,” Temin said.
Those years were spent in a basement office underneath the old auditorium in the now-renovated Student Center.
“The editor in chief’s office was at the back of that room and they had to be careful standing up or they would bump their head,” Temin recalled. “By the time you got to where the door was to the corridor, it was a tall ceiling.”
The office also housed a lot of the physical apparati necessary for printing in the 70s. Copy had to be typed up on typewriters and then had to be put into a Magnetic Tape "Selectric" Composer to make pasted flats, which were then turned into plates and sent to the on-campus printer.
When an important machine broke, Reporter had to get a capital investment from the school to invest in an electronic typewriter. Like most new technology, only one person knew how to use it at the time.
“There was a lot of mechanics in publishing those days,” Temin said.
Now, printing is a matter of compiling a file and sending it to an off-campus printing facility. The on-campus printer was sold in May 2012. A year later, the print magazine transitioned from a weekly publication to monthly with an emphasis on online content.
Much like Klaif, Temin emphasized that Reporter was the main source of news for students on campus in the 70s. Now, the prevalence of social media and the monthly nature of the magazine has changed the type of news we deliver to the public.
Advancing technology has also changed the way journalists gather news and sources. To contact sources, journalists can send off a quick email and use that to organize interview times.
When Temin was reporting, he would meet people in person or call to schedule interview times. They also sent out cultural review staff to events that were held on campus.
“You got to know people,” Temin said. “It was relational based rather than electronically based.”
For Temin, the relationships he formed were one of the most important parts of Reporter.
“Mainly what I remember was the people,” Temin said. “A couple of them I’m still in touch with time to time, some of them have died.”
Like Klaif, Temin fondly remembers late nights putting the magazine together and then heading to Jay’s Diner.
“That’s really what you take away, just the relationships, working together on something you enjoy doing,” Temin said. “When you’re young, that’s something that never leaves you.”
Some things never change — like the fact that people like to complain. Temin said he enjoyed the criticism. A letter published in the April 9, 1976 issue criticized his very first editor’s note.
“Your first editorial showed certain tendencies toward a slightly scathing, somewhat leading and possibly gossipy style of work manipulation,” wrote Michael Bradbury.
“Students complain about everything on campus,” Temin said. “The housing, the faculty, buildings were too ugly. I mean, that’s what students do, they complain about everything, they complain about Reporter. But just like they come back to school every year, they always pick up Reporter week after week.”
An attempt at censorship hit that very same April 1976 issue, when someone tried to steal or throw out over 2,000 issues after they were distributed. Although there was a suspect, Reporter did not have enough evidence to move an investigation forward. The issue in question contained an article exposing the acting director of Tech Crew abusing his position.
During his time at Reporter, Temin experienced a period of increased awareness of women’s issues. He covered the opening of the NTID buildings, he covered the never-ending saga of the then-College Union Board’s inadequacy and he endorsed Student Association presidents. As editor in chief, Temin frequently had the opportunity to voice his opinion in editor’s notes.
Over the years, Temin addressed issues of racial equality, the growing cost of tuition, the 1976 election, censorship on campus and other RIT, Rochester and national issues. In his final issue as editor in chief in February 1977, Temin left with these words:
“There is a temptation, in one’s last editorial, to deliver a final swipe at those with whom one disagrees, or to leave the readers with haughty words of wisdom. I will resist both temptations. All I wish to say is that RIT can be a good place to go to school. While there are some untold stories, the good outweighs the bad.”
Temin left RIT and moved onto a successful career in journalism. His first job was at a small paper called the Monadnock Ledger in Peterborough, N.H., where he filled various positions from reporter to photographer to sports editor. In 1980, Temin joined Cahners Publishing Company in Boston, which published a variety of business-to-business and trade magazines. In 1986, he was named editor in chief of a new publication there called Electronics Purchasing.
In 1998, Temin became executive vice president of Post-Newsweek Tech Media, owned by the Washington Post Company. In 2007 it was sold to a competitor, after which Temin got a nice buyout and worked as a freelancer and consultant. In late 2008 Temin got a job as a radio broadcaster at Federal News Radio in Washington, D.C., where he still works today.
“It was a good career for me, I was on the high end of pay for trade magazine editors,” Temin said.
Temin sees his time at Reporter as a pivotal experience in his life and his time at RIT.
“Real fulfillment of campus life came to me through Reporter,” he said. “It was my identity. I felt like I had an important role in the overall campus.”