How can local journalism and print news publishing thrive in the era of online news? Publishers and business analysts all agree that speed onto -- and off -- the printing press remains key to success. It’s all about either meeting tight deadlines or holding off a press run long enough to update breaking news.
Jim Hager is production director for Evergreen Printing Company, an award-winning New Jersey printer serving as an outsource solution for some of the most well-known newspapers, business publications and media brands, including, The Financial Times, Politico, and The Guardian, as well as major newspaper chains such as BH Media, Newhouse, NY Times, and Newsday. Evergreen also publishes catalogs, show dailies, travel guides, and community resource guides.
With a background at major newspaper companies and commercial publishers, Hager knows that publishers’ need for speed is “crucial for a daily newspaper trying to catch late news.”
How is that possible? Well, think of an old movie scene when the grizzled editor runs down to the newspaper’s basement where mammoth, thundering printing presses create a deafening roar as they churn out thousands of newspapers. Standing at the foot of the stairs, the editor barks to the ink-stained operators, “Stop the presses!”
Usually, within a couple of scenes, the paper’s delivery trucks appear on screen barreling down city streets, tossing out tied-up, stacked bundles of newspapers, all flashing blazing new headlines. Well, that’s in the movies. In reality, it would have taken several hours, at least, to produce new printing plates and get the giant presses geared up again for a new print run.
Hager, who majored in print management at Rochester Institute of Technology, says offset technology, itself, has not changed much in the last 15 or 20 years. But automation has certainly accelerated, and today, Evergreen Printing Company’s newspaper clients benefit from the firm having doubled its through-put capacity to approximately 208 plates set per hour, and having reduced the number of machines it needs for a particular print run.
How do they do it?
Evergreen relies on Kodak pre-press technology and workflow software, including the Kodak News TRENDSETTER CTP machine, SONORA NEWS printing plates and Kodak Prinergy. Designed specifically for newspapers, the SONORA NEWS process-free plates eliminate the costs, time and environmental impact of plate processing. Plus, the plates offer the productivity newspapers need to keep the presses running.
Kodak’s Prinergy software manages the whole production process, taking the PDF file from the publisher and allowing the print operator to manage settings such as color quality, resolution, and more. The two technologies work together to help the printer increase speed, productivity, quality, and reliability.
Just imagine the previous process: each step disconnected from the other; complicated and slowed down by chemical processing of plates, and more prone to error because of human intervention at each step of the process. Chemical-free processing, besides its obvious environmental benefits, helps printers cut down on time and waste in the production process.
“For us,” says Hager, “it was a no-brainer to go with Kodak’s processor-less technology. On top of needing to maintain and repair the processors, we had to have a licensed environmental waste remover haul the chemical waste away and properly dispose of it.”
Hager said Kodak’s sustainability focused technology has enabled Evergreen to market its services as a more ‘green’ solution. “We do have customers who are very serious about being more energy conscious,” he said.
“So, besides demonstrating that we’re chemical free on the pre-press side, they admire our installation of 3,924 solar panels spread across four acres at our Bellmawr, New Jersey, printing plant. Thanks to this massive solar array, we’ve essentially eliminated 34,000 tons of carbon dioxide over the life of the system. That’s important to our customers, and our employees are excited about it, too,” Hager added.
Of course, when it comes to sustainability measures, there’s almost always a financial benefit. “We use a lot of power,” Hager explained. “So, economically, it was a win for us, especially in New Jersey which offers some nice incentives for companies that commit to green energy use.” Hager says they’ve justified the investment costs pretty effectively, and that last month power consumption was down by about 40 percent.
“What’s more, we wouldn’t have been able to land some of the customers we have without the increased productivity we’ve attained with Kodak’s technology. The time we now save in pre-press, we can give to our customers, and that can determine whether a lead story makes the latest edition,” Hager said.
So, next time someone shouts, “Stop the presses!” think how quickly and cleanly today’s new printing technology can get them rolling again.