Print or be printed?

Newspapers & Technology Magazine - - Front Page - ▶ Mary Van Me­ter pub­lisher & edi­tor

Her­shey, Penn­syl­va­nia — In­dus­try vet­eran Bob Hall­strom, vice pres­i­dent of man­u­fac­tur­ing and prod­uct devel­op­ment for The Siebold Com­pany Inc., re­cently spoke to The Amer­ica East con­fer­ence at­ten­dees on the topic of “Print or be Printed.”

Amer­ica East Me­dia Busi­ness and Tech­nol­ogy Con­fer­ence was held this year at the Her­shey Lodge from April 10–12. Hosted by the Penn­syl­va­nia NewsMe­dia As­so­ci­a­tion, the con­fer­ence fea­tured more that 95 in­dus­try-lead­ing pre­sen­ters and mod­er­a­tors.

As an in­dus­try, news­pa­pers are scram­bling to in­no­vate not only in the dig­i­tal sphere, but in print as well. As tech­nol­ogy grows and changes, there are op­por­tu­ni­ties to make the print prod­uct draw in rev­enue and help sus­tain a tra­di­tional news or­ga­ni­za­tion. Hall­strom ad­dressed ways in which me­dia com­pa­nies can an­a­lyze their op­er­a­tions to make smart, for­ward-think­ing de­ci­sions to ex­tend the life­time of print prod­ucts well into the fu­ture.

Hall­strom ex­plained that print is by no means dead and will re­main vi­able for many years, how­ever news­pa­pers will need to strate­gi­cally look at press uti­liza­tion as the key el­e­ment in de­cid­ing what the print process looks like for a par­tic­u­lar or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“Pub­lish­ers will need to break down the cost of print­ing, by hour or im­pres­sion, and com­pare mar­ket rates in spe­cific ar­eas,” Hall­strom stated. News­pa­per op­er­a­tions should de­ter­mine what can be of­fered to the lo­cal com­mer­cial print mar­ket in terms of to­tal pages, to­tal color pages and other ser­vices. Hall­strom sug­gested that or­ga­ni­za­tions ask them­selves ques­tions like, Will your press need to be ex­panded or re­con­fig­ured to sat­isfy these ad­di­tional pro­duc­tion needs?

Crit­i­cal com­po­nents of ex­pan­sion into com­mer­cial print­ing are qual­ity ca­pa­bil­i­ties, prod­uct sizes and spe­cial sec­tions.

“Does your op­er­a­tion have auto reg­is­tra­tion, re­mote color with pre-set­ting and auto cut­off con­trol?” Hall­strom asked. “Can your folder han­dle broad­sheet, tabloid sizes and the abil­ity to quar­ter fold?”

Hall­strom fur­ther asked at­ten­dees to as­sess the avail­able print win­dow, in­clud­ing the speed of presses, re­li­a­bil­ity of presses and con­di­tions of the presses.

If a news­pa­per is con­sid­er­ing out­sourc­ing print pro­duc­tion, they should con­sider the fol­low­ing ques­tions.

What’s the cost of print­ing your news­pa­per?

How many pages of process color can the press han­dle per page count, and how much will that color cost?

Can the printer han­dle pre­print in­sert­ing? If so, what is the charge? Can the printer han­dle bundling and la­bel­ing pa­pers for the mail?

Can the printer de­liver the pa­per to the post of­fice(s) in time for prompt de­liv­ery to sub­scribers?

Does the printer of­fer high qual­ity? Will you have to change web width, and thus your col­umn sizes?

Can the printer ac­com­mo­date your sched­ule?

Can the printer han­dle spe­cial sec­tions and spe­cialty pub­li­ca­tions?

How long will the quoted prices be guar­an­teed?

Fi­nally, con­sider ef­fi­cien­cies in pre­press, press and post­press in the over­all de­ci­sions. Is your pre­press op­er­a­tion out­fit­ted with CTP, color man­age­ment sys­tems and com­puter-to-press ink­ing and is your post­press equipped to han­dle au­to­matic con­vey­ing and pal­letiz­ing?

Hall­strom rec­om­mends tak­ing all as­pects into con­sid­er­a­tion, re­search­ing the most up-to-date tech­nol­ogy and find­ing a way for­ward from there.

There have been many pa­pers over re­cent years that have asked them­selves these ques­tions and more. Some have de­cided that up­grad­ing fa­cil­i­ties and bring­ing in more busi­ness is the best path for their op­er­a­tions mov­ing for­ward. Oth­ers have shut­tered the press op­er­a­tions in fa­vor of out­sourc­ing to find it freed up time and money to cre­ate a more ro­bust prod­uct. What­ever path a com­pany chooses, boil­ing down the num­bers and ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the cur­rent op­er­a­tion makes the de­ci­sion eas­ier.

As Amer­ica East made clear, tech­nol­ogy ex­ists that makes print­ing faster, eas­ier and cleaner than ever be­fore. De­cid­ing if those in­vest­ments are right for your com­pany is eas­ier when ev­ery an­gle has been ex­am­ined.

"News­pa­pers need to strate­gi­cally look at press uti­liza­tion."

— Bob Hall­strom, vice pres­i­dent of man­u­fac­tur­ing and prod­uct devel­op­ment for The Siebold Com­pany Inc.

Photo: Mary L. Van Me­ter

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