Print or be printed?
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.