From the newsroom to your letterbox
As the Sunday Star-Times counts down to next week’s relaunch as a compact newspaper, we thought we’d give you an insight into what it takes to create your favourite Sunday read as well as introduce our new crop of columnists.
Whirr, whish clack. Whirr, whish, clack.
The paper rolls through the press so fast that headlines and images become a blur.
It’s 10.30pm on Saturday at the printing factory in Ellerslie, Auckland and production of the Sunday StarTimes has just got under way.
During the next few hours more than 30,000 copies of the newspaper will be printed, folded, stacked, packaged and loaded onto trucks for deliveries around the upper North Island in the wee hours of Sunday morning.
Newspapers to be delivered to the southern half of the country are printed in Petone and Christchurch.
Journalists, columnists and photographers have spent the past week chasing news tips, conducting interviews, composing pictures and writing (and sometimes re-writing) stories that tens of thousands of Kiwis consume over their Sunday morning coffee .
The process begins when Star-Times editor Jonathan Milne or print producers on the late-night Saturday shift send image files of each page after it’s been edited, proof-read and signed off.
Then, with the push of only a few buttons the plates for the presses are made. It’s a far more efficient task than it was only a few decades ago.
Rather than staff assembling each letter into rows by hand, a laser etches the grooves into a thin sheet of A2 metal.
Those plates are then loaded into the printers, along with thousands of reams of paper, and the machines start to churn.
Once they’ve been printed the newspapers are flattened, assembled – including inserting pre-printed parts of the paper such as Sunday magazine, Escape and Business – and stacked while staff watch over the process carefully to make sure the machines run smoothly.
Winding across the ceiling are narrow metal structures that resemble rollercoaster tracks, with step inclines and declines. They’re used to transport the printed papers to the part of the factory where they’re stacked into piles, then wrapped in plastic and hauled onto waiting trucks using a forklift.
The whole operation is seamless.
Everyone at the factory, as well as newsrooms from Whangarei to Invercargill, has a different job. But they’re all working toward a common goal – to put together a paper Kiwis can count on to give them the best quality news, features and opinions to read, ponder and enjoy during their weekend.
Midnight at the Ellerslie printing press and the StarTimes is rolling.