Digital Printing for Newspapers: Innovating Short-Runs

Faced with the unprecedented challenges of an industry that is changing rapidly, newspaper publishers are searching for new ways to generate revenues and improve their service to readers. Digital printing – complementing offset production - is an option to create new sources of income for newspapers.

The digital opportunity

New digital inkjet technologies have opened up a new spectrum of possibilities for newspapers. Micro-zoned and personalized content have gained attention as ways to reinvigorate the newspaper publishing industry.

The benefits of digital newspaper printing are:

  • Digital printing fits to web-based personalized publishing
  • Variable content can be printed on every page, therefore customization of content is possible
  • Short runs down to a run length of one are perfectly feasible
  • The workflow is dramatically simplified and accelerated. Computer to print technology does not need plates, there is no job changeover time and last minute changes are possible
  • Late news can run almost immediately
  • Late advertising – changes, classifieds etc. can be accepted right up to press time
  • Minimized eco footprint – less maculation, returns, transportation
  • Lower logistic costs for out-of-market production

Digital and offset production are not a contradiction, they complement each other, as is the case with hybrid workflows. With the new digital web-fed color inkjet presses, digital production is an increasingly viable business case for short runs.

Digital printing of newspapers provides very attractive opportunities for generating new revenues, but the business model that is chosen must be specific to several needs.

The shift towards color and quality requirements. Newspaper publishers are increasingly requesting full color production from their digital printing partners for several reasons:

  • They want to protect the brand identity with quality levels similar to offset production
  • Advertisers are asking for color
  • Advertising rates depend on the circulation and in many countries only full color newspapers are counted in the circulation figures

Short time-to-market. Newspaper printing and publishing mandates extremely short turn­around times. This requires an efficient digital work­flow as well as productive presses and finishing solutions with high uptime and reliability.

Fill the day shifts. Digital production concentrates on night shifts so that papers can be delivered early in the morning. A 2nd shift in newspaper production can be filled for special supplements and inserts that are not time-critical.

Automated finishing. Since the time window for newspaper production is in most cases only limited to the night shift, newspaper finishing should be automated and integrated into the digital production process, either directly online or near-online.

Production close to demand. The tight time window for digital newspaper production has another effect - production should be close to the place of demand.

Every penny counts. The price-premium for value-added newspapers close to demand, national & international short runs or personal­ized newspapers is minimal.

manroland web systems and Océ provide complete solutions for digital newspaper production including the industry’s widest portfolio of inkjet presses, workflows and finishing. With their flexibility, the fully variable digital manroland inline folders ensure maximum utilization of the advantages of digital printing for books and newspapers, as well as commercial printing. Combined with offset printing, this provides users with the optimal production solution for all applications and run lengths.