PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The old presses have been churning out papers on the Boulevard of the Allies since the mid-1950s and pressmen must tend to them nightly with wrenches and oil just to keep them humming.
“We had quite a few breakdowns. It’s a challenge every night to get the paper out,” says Brian Benneck, the pressroom foreman.
Sometime next week, those presses will go silent and shiny, new presses will take over. They’re computer-driven, vertical and state-of-the-art. To Benneck, they’re a whole new world.
“When I come in here, it’s like going from ‘The Flintstones to ‘The Jetsons,’” he says.
To stay competitive, the paper is streamlining and consolidating, leasing a gigantic, 240,000-square foot building in Clinton and combining all of its production, distribution and storage operations under one roof.
But the center piece is the new press, a major investment at a time when more and more people get their information electronically.
“We have digital, we have mobile, we have our website, but the Pittsburgh market loves their print, and we want to make sure we’re giving them a quality product,” said the newspaper’s Lisa Hurm.
The PG believes that, in Pittsburgh at least, producing a quality print edition is essential to its survival, and that the press will allow it to produce a more vibrant paper.
“This is an off-set technology that gives you a much clearer product. Better quality photos, better type and fewer wrinkles throughout,” said Hurm.
The size of the print will stay the same size, but the paper itself will be trimmed, about an inch off the sides and 2 1/2 inches from the bottom, but the PG says less is more, more sections and easier to handle.
“For most people, they like the compact size,” Hurm said. “You know having a large newspaper and the fold isn’t necessarily what our readers want. Our readers like to hold the newspaper, interact with it.”
Sadly, the new operations will require fewer workers. The paper is in negotiations about the exact number of reductions, but hopes to achieve most through attrition. The presses, however, represents a long-term commitment to the Pittsburgh region in a very challenging time for newspapers.
With this massive investment, the Post-Gazette is making a very bold statement that print is alive and well and they’re hopeful that you and your family will be embracing this new edition for decades to come.
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