So, a guy calls the office asking about opportunities for copy editors.

It’s like he’s calling from another time zone AND from a time warp.

From a place where a mild-mannered, introverted deskman could still run a personal quality-control operation amid others of similar low-key ilk – and collect a check for it.

But this caller has never had to sell his skills. He never had to add new ones. He never had to overtly defend what he did for a living. Never needed to learn anything about SEO or SMB or EBITDA.

About the time warp: He asked about where to look for work. And he asked if the old magazines were still around. The ones with the job ads in the back: E&P and CJR and Presstime. How about our CNPA Bulletin, he asked. Did it have want ads like before?

I’d gotten past feeling like I was being punked a couple of minutes earlier. And after answering a few more quiz questions, I loaded him up with some URLs for still-kicking publications, plus a few others that might be up his alley: JournalismJobs.com, the American Copy Editors Society job board, a couple of corporate newspaper websites. Our Job Bank on our new website.

I imagine he was as surprised to find a live voice on a phone line as I was to hear from an actual job seeker in that vanishing line of work.

***

On another day, just after noon, a call got transferred in to my desk. Somehow, I dread those. You picks up and takes your chances.

And sure enough, like the Saturdays on the night news desk, it was an elderly woman who couldn’t make some newfangled gizmo work.

The gizmo was the Huffington Post. She wanted to get someone there on the phone because she had an idea for a story. Coherent, articulate woman, she was. But she wasn’t online; and somehow she had reached me on a landline.

If only I could have found her a live being on the Contact Us page at HuffingtonPost.com. No go.

My caller could have emailed her pitch in from any computer or smartphone. But she wanted to talk to a live body.

She started to wander off into “this is why America’s in trouble” territory, the basic M.O. of most callers to the late-night desk back in the day.

But she told a story, evoked a scripture and ended up blessing me for listening to an old lady rant.

OK, message taken.

***

This issue of California Publisher marks a first.

It’s the first-ever digital-only edition of a publication that has, since 1922, recorded the persistent and sometimes strange changes in our state’s newspaper industry.

What is now a quarterly newspaper was once published every other month. Before that, it was monthly. And before the 1970s, it was a monthly magazine.

And way back when, it was THE reason early CNPA publishers remitted their dues: for a journal that chronicled how our forefathers did business and talked truth to power (that, and a little to help cover the CNPA field man in his work around the state and the Capitol).

It was long ago, not too far away. And all true. We have the archives to prove it.

So now, in 2012, with the new digital membership category, and the need to reach CNPA members and their staffers more often, in a variety of media, we’re adding two digital issues to the mix: this one and another in January.

This one won’t go on the press. It won’t get labeled, sorted and Publication Mailed from our local USPS.

It also won’t land in your inbox, to vie for your attention with that other, lesser mail.

Risky? Sure. But that’s our business.

Thanks for reading.

Joe Wirt is the editor of California Publisher.