CMYK: SBJ staff gets behind-the-scenes look at printing plant

Emily Letterman, Features Editor
Journalists bleed CMYK.

The basic building blocks of all printed products – cyan, magenta, yellow and black ink – can’t be replaced by a collection of pixels on a screen.

I’m no stranger to mobile devices. In fact, I consume more news each morning via my iPad than during the remaining hours of the day combined, but the format is out of necessity, not desire.

Call it the steadfast will of a print journalist, but for me, nothing will ever replace newsprint. From the smell of fresh ink on your hands, to the ruffle of the paper as you turn the page – it’s that simple sight of a tangible piece of history sitting on the corner of my desk each day that makes me smile.

Part of the digital media revolution, the Springfield Business Journal publishes a Daily Update each business day with the latest articles and news around town. With the click of one mouse button, thousands can read the words we write each day. The printed product, however, takes a bit more work.

Anyone who has seen my collection of antique printing memorabilia knows I would jump at the chance to tour a printing plant and last Friday the SBJ staff got just that opportunity.

Members of the SBJ staff stand among more than 600, 1,200-pound rolls of newsprint stacked floor to ceiling during the Feb. 8 tour.

Members of the SBJ staff stand among more than 600, 1,200-pound rolls of newsprint stacked floor to ceiling during the Feb. 8 tour.

Nowata Printing Co. churns out more than 1.75 million pieces each week, consuming 4,000 to 5,000 pounds of ink and 60,000 to 80,000 pounds of paper to ship newspapers and advertising supplements for customers across Missouri and around the nation to areas such as Arkansas, Georgia, Texas and Louisiana. The plant even distributes some products as far away as South America and the Caribbean islands.

Sales Manager Matt Morrison said the company weekly prints about 1.5 million commercial products and about 250,000 newspaper jobs, including SBJ, and 15 other community and university newspapers in the area.

Different projects require different types of paper and due to a shuttle system set in the floor, press operators can easily transition between rolls.

Different projects require different types of paper and due to a shuttle system set in the floor, press operators can easily transition between rolls.

After completing our extensive editing process, SBJ sends the completed pages to the plant, but the process is far from over – it’s only just begun.

First proofed by commercial graphic artists, the pages are then sent to the planting room where lasers burn the image into a flexible piece of aluminum. A far cry from the old days of type trays and hundreds of hand-placed letters, the entire process is done via computer and the aluminum sheets roll out like candy from a vending machine.

From plating, the SBJ pages then head out the door and finally hit the press. With a different plate for each ink color – CMYK – aligning the registration on any printed product takes a lot of trial and error and a skilled hand at the press.

Proof copies of SBJ’s Feb. 11-17 issue hang alongside the press as workers align printing plates on the massive two-story machine.

Proof copies of SBJ’s Feb. 11-17 issue hang alongside the press as workers align printing plates on the massive two-story machine.

The “C” in CMYK, these cyan ink rolls won’t stay still for long as the plant gears up to print another product.

The “C” in CMYK, these cyan ink rollers won’t stay still for long as the plant gears up to print another product.

Yellow ink pools in a tub below a set of heat-set ink rollers. “You can tell a pressman by his hands,” Morrison said. “It’s almost as if their hands become one with the ink and it permeates everything they touch.”

Yellow ink pools in a tub below a set of heat-set ink rollers. “You can tell a pressman by his hands,” Morrison said. “It’s almost as if their hands become one with the ink and it permeates everything they touch.”

Hot off the press: Once the ink plates are aligned, hundreds of copies of the journal roll off the press each minute.

Hot off the press: Once the ink plates are aligned, hundreds of copies of the journal roll off the press each minute.

Printing the paper is only half the battle. From the press, the papers must be stacked, cut, trimmed, sorted, inserted and labeled before ever hitting the post office and finally your mailbox.

The original face book, the printed product is the heart and soul of a newspaper. It is the culmination of reporters, editors, photographers, graphic artists, sales representatives and pressmen working together in perfect harmony to produce a printed symphony of words that inform and engage an eager community.

On to the next issue.

Advertisements

0 Responses to “CMYK: SBJ staff gets behind-the-scenes look at printing plant”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s




RSS Latest Headlines from SBJ.net

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

SBJ Tweets

Archived Blog Posts

All content © 2008 SBJ Publishing Inc.

*The newsroom blog of Springfield Business Journal
Advertisements

%d bloggers like this: