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For Times Journalists, the Page One Press Plate Is Precious Metal

The commemorative plates, however, do not see any printing action, according to Mike Connors, the managing director at College Point.

A used plate, Mr. Connors said, “would be filthy, dirty, bent, and it would have holes punched into it to attach it to the presses.” The plant uses more than 1,400 plates a day to print The Times and other newspapers, then recycles the plates, he said.

With the newsroom scattered because of the coronavirus pandemic, the delivery of plates has become more sporadic. Mr. Connors has been mailing more commemoratives in boxes that are altered and heavily taped to fit the plates’ 12-by-23-inch dimensions. Reporters have picked up their own plates in Manhattan while we try different distribution options.

One of my first mailings, swaddled in foam, cardboard, tape and just a little more tape that was begged from a stranger at the post office, went to Shawn Hubler, a reporter in Sacramento who joined The Times last year. Ms. Hubler, whose newspaper career dates back to the days of Royal typewriters with carbon paper, received her plate in October for an article that ran months earlier, on May 22. She and her husband toasted its arrival.

“When I got that plate in the mail, in the midst of a very sad year, for work I had done just for the joy of working, from an institution that is the pinnacle of this profession, it felt like a kind of grace,” she wrote in an email.

Presentations are rare these days because of the pandemic, but one such delivery I made was to the Metro reporter Ed Shanahan in December, when I had to run errands in his Manhattan neighborhood. We met on a frigid sidewalk as the clock ran down on alternate-side parking. It had been a long wait for Mr. Shanahan, who shared a front-page byline in February.

“Where it might go in my apartment is a riddle,” he mused later. He was most excited to share it with his father, a retired newsman.

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