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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3V will create a new, compact sectional newspaper format from existing equipment, creating a much more productive press, comparable to most new models capable of handling larger runs. The so-called three-around printing system creates cutoffs between 14.5 and 15.75 inches depending on current press cut-off, running in a straight-only mode. (Optional dual cutoff retaining existing cutoff alongside 3V is available.) The system works with single- or double-wide presses.
By employing this patent-pending technology, pressrooms can increase productivity by 50 percent and can extend press run deadlines to include late-breaking news, according to Pressline. A press running 50,000 papers per hour can realize 75,000 papers per hour. Plus, the smaller format saves a lot on paper costs. The 3V system may potentially eliminate entire presses, reducing labor costs, equipment costs, and service costs. The raw newsprint savings at these cut-offs is up to 33 percent. When reducing a larger web width to 44 inches, the savings will be an additional four to 12 percent.
"Also, based on a prototype I saw, it [3V] paradoxically results in a print edition with more pages, more heft, and better display opportunities for editorial content and ads," said Rick Edmonds of the Poynter Institute. "A single sheet passes through the presses three times rather than the usual two times. That results in a sectioned paper with lots of color availability, about the size of a typical tabloid, but not as squarish in shape."
There also is the so-called "Berliner" size—midway between a tabloid and a broadsheet—to consider. Fairly common in France, Italy, and Spain, it has gotten some play in the States. Named after a newspaper designer, the format is popular because it still allows separately folded sections, yet feels more like a magazine size when folded.
In a 2006 US debut, the Journal and Courier in Lafayette, IN, 50 miles northwest of Indianapolis, began running the Berliner size on a manroland press. At 18.5 inches long by 12 inches wide, the J&C's Berliner is smaller than the broadsheet common to US dailies. (The Journal and Courier previously was 22.5 x 13.5 inches.) But the new format is larger than a typical tabloid newspaper's 13.5 x 11.25 inches. Most importantly, perhaps, it allows an edition to be packaged in familiar, physically separate newspaper sections.
The smaller page means there are more of them so that the amount of space devoted to news coverage stays about the same, said executive editor Julie Doll. Most Monday morning editions are between 28 and 32 pages, compared with the previous format of 24 pages. Besides making the paper smaller, the new presses added more color pages—up to 48 per day. The previous plant could print fewer than 20 pages in color.
Readers seem to like the format, according to focus group studies, as do advertisers. In addition to market differentiation, the Berliner option offers full-color and better print reproduction. And instead of selling ad space in the traditional measurement of inches, ads in the Berliner are sold based on the percentage of space they fill on a page, so the value proposition is different.
With a daily circulation of some 36,000, the J&C is produced at a $24 million offset printing plant that Gannett fitted specifically for the Berliner. Its MAN Geoman press consists of three full-color towers, four inline end-mounted reelstands, five formers (two pairs and a commercial former for webs up to 35 inches wide), a jaw folder with quarter-folding capability, and a stitcher.
As always, especially in the current economy, cost is a major consideration. Migration to the Berliner format requires all new press equipment. But it may be appealing to newspaper owners already looking for new equipment. Gannett chose Lafayette for the Berliner, because the paper needed to replace its mid-1960s letterpress operation anyway, according to president and publisher Gary Suisman. Plus, there's a consumables tradeoff on ink and paper. Newspapers across the country have been getting smaller in size as the cost of newsprint has steadily increased. Suisman estimated that the Berliner is reducing the paper's newsprint costs by 10 to 15 percent annually.