Concerns are rising about the selective news consumption habits of US readers in this election year. Facing decreased circulation numbers and poor advertising spend, some large cities, which for decades had dual and dueling daily newspapers—one leaning Democratic, the other with Republican...
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Quebecor Media owns several manroland hybrid presses with both heatset and coldset capabilities at plants in Montreal and Toronto. One of these, operating consistently at 90,000 copies per hour, was the first in the newspaper printing industry capable of printing newspapers, retail inserts, and phone directories on a single machine. This press is also capable of printing variable web widths.
Another prime example of the hybrid trend in action is Seacoast Media Group (SMG). The Portsmouth, NH, firm has seen its commercial contract print orders increase by more than 900 percent in four years since installing a Magnum coldset press and inserter from Goss International. The company credits the high automation and versatility of the press among the key reasons for such a high degree of success.
"We specialize in offset newspaper printing and everything that entails," said Alan Laskey, production manager at Seacoast. "We have a number of titles with quite substantial run lengths, but no run is too small. The secret weapon for maintaining our service to clients is the level of automation of the Magnum press and the flexibility of the single width platform."
Running 15 to 18 jobs a day, each averaging between 45 to 60 minutes on press, the efficiency of the operation is essential in keeping costs down and ensuring customer satisfaction. "We get through 13,000 plates per month, which gives an indication of the frequency of job and edition changes," Laskey noted. "The automatic inking, automatic registration, Omnicolor presetting, and the Omnicon controls on our Magnum press maintain job setup, changeover, and [keep] waste at a minimum."
Prior to installation of the 16-unit Magnum 2x2 press, along with the new Goss inserter, SMG's printing services were principally concerned with the firm's own in-house publications, with outside contracts accounting for approximately $700,000 per annum. Today, the value of contract print work totals around $6.5 million per year and accounts for 75 percent of the company's total turnover. According to Laskey, this increase is the consequence of a concerted sales effort aimed at exploiting the full capabilities of the new press and through referrals from existing customers.
The single-wide press platform also allows SMG to accommodate a variety of web widths, between 22 and 32 inches, providing the flexibility to print a wide range of publication formats. Aside from general maintenance periods on weekends, the Magnum runs virtually 24/7, servicing 160 active accounts predominantly from locations throughout Maine, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire, and dispatching as far as New York state.
SMG was awarded the contract to print 28,000 copies daily of the Nashua Telegraph as well as its numerous weekly titles. This latest assignment contributes to a total output per week of around one million copies.
Three-Around, Berliner, and Other Compact Formats
At Graph Expo, Del Varney, operations VP at The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, detailed the newspaper's decision to modify its presses to an innovative, three-around configuration—a bold move management had been contemplating for three years. In mid-2011, Gannett signed a letter of intent with the Dispatch, 100 miles away, for the outsourced printing of The Cincinnati Enquirer and The Kentucky Enquirer in a more compact, easy-to-use format (10.5x14.5 inches). The change is expected in Q4 2012, at which time the Enquirer's production facility would close. "While covering the same amount of news as the previous format, this new approach would enhance the user experience by allowing for a fuller use of color and photographs and improved readability," said Margaret Buchanan, president and publisher of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The Dispatch has signed a letter of intent with Pressline Services of St. Louis to produce the compact format for its newspapers, based on Pressline's new press system called 3Volution (3V), in early 2013. At Graph Expo in September, Pressline exhibited its 3V cutoff modification service, which the firm says marks an evolution in printing. The system uses a plate cylinder capable of printing three sheets in a single revolution.