Dianne Low
I WAS 22 years old when I started at the Pretoria News and retired at 60 in 2016.

I started working in the library in 1978 long before computers.

The librarians’ job was to read the newspaper from the front to the back page and then file each article so that the reporters could do research as they did with the photos. Every morning as the pages were being laid out we had to find the photo and take it down to the works.

It was a busy job, and just when you’d finished filing all the cuttings and photos, the next day’s paper was there to start.

Our general knowledge was very good. Today 40 years later I can still find articles and photos in the old library, and recall events.

In those days there was a printing press in the building, and the vibrations and noise could be felt up to the third floor where we were. This was something I missed when printing moved to The Star in Joburg.

Later, when the library went electronic, I was transferred to the editorial department in the position of editor’s secretary.

For the next 19 years I worked happily with the editors and journalists in the newsroom.

The last editor I worked with was Valerie Boje who I had met many years earlier when she first came to the newsroom as a university student.

There was always a buzz with reporters coming and going and people phoning in with information or complaints about the city council or something they thought was incorrect in the paper.

One day we were all called for a meeting; some tall men had positioned themselves in front of the lifts. Next thing the doors opened and out stepped Nelson Mandela! What a special day for us as we got to shake his hand and have photos taken.

I was very young when I started at the ’News and having spent so many years there I think I was more aware of what was happening in the world and around Pretoria than I would have been had I worked anywhere else.

I am who I am today because of the things Pretoria News did for others. Elaine Ash was always organising projects like the Mandela Day project, helping the Gift of the Givers feed the poor and hand out blankets and we were there to help.

Some of the events she did took months to arrange and I was lucky enough to help her with some, like the “Night at the Proms” and the Design-an-Ad school competition.

I met a lot of interesting people over the years and experienced many things, including the Oscar (Pistorius) trial and the procession for Madiba which passed by the building.

I will always remember the day we were taken hostage by a man who wanted us to put his sad story in the paper. When we did not he came back with a gun. There were police everywhere and we were evacuated while they tried to calm him down.

My son told me I was lucky that I always wanted to go to work in the morning, because most people were not that fortunate.