Start the presses: New era of printing starting for Times-Herald

by Clay Neely - clay@newnan.com

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Photo by Jeffrey Leo

The press room at Opelika-Auburn News offers a state-of-the-art production facility. Beginning Wednesday, the Opelika-Auburn News production plant will begin printing our newspaper.


There are big changes taking place at The Newnan Times-Herald.

Today marks the last day that the Times-Herald will be using its own printing press to print the newspaper.

Since the paper’s inception 148 years ago, the company continuously utilized an in-house printing press. Generations have overseen the operation and worked tirelessly to deliver the best quality product possible.

Over the last decade, the newspaper industry has been evolving at a rapid pace. As the demand for quality and need for variety increases, the readers of newspapers can dictate the direction in which a company moves.

Because of the growing need for a more efficient and higher quality product, effective Wednesday, May 21, the pressroom at Opelika-Auburn News will assume the duties of printing future editions of The Newnan Times-Herald.

Overseeing the printing for The Newnan Times-Herald for the last 50 years has been William Thomasson. In 1964 when Thomasson left college to work full-time in the family business, an eight-page letter press was in operation. Later years included a 12-page King offset press, a 16-page King, a 20-page King and a Web 16-page press with four-color capability.

Over the years, Thomasson has also been recognized by the industry for his innovation to improve mechanical parts to presses and for his process to make inexpensive, quick color separations for newspapers.

“As equipment has become more expensive and complex, changes in the industry have made it more practical to go regional printing,” Thomasson said.

Rex Maynor is the publisher for Opelika-Auburn News, a 109-year-old publication which touts a daily circulation of 14,000 and is the primary newspaper for Lee County, Alabama, and the surrounding areas.

“With an operation our size, we have the most up-to-date equipment and well-trained staff in the area,” Maynor said. “Our press was brand new in 2007 and it’s a state-of-the-art production facility. We hope we can offer higher quality and color flexibility. We’re quite proud of our company and look forward to working with the Times-Herald.”

John A. Winters, publisher of the Times-Herald, said, “This was a very difficult decision for us. In a sense, you feel like you are giving up control. However, the quality of the Opelika operation is incredible and is the right and best decision for our readers and advertisers.”

“We look forward to a long-term beneficial relationship with the Opelika-Auburn News,” he added.

One of the main aspects behind the decision to outsource the printing to a new facility was simply based on the features that The Opelika-Auburn press is capable of producing.

While only being an hour away, the Opelika-Auburn press room wasn’t necessarily picked for their proximity or even their price – the decision was also based on the quality of printing that they have provided for their readers.

“While the current press that we use isn’t necessarily obsolete, there are newer printing presses which are similar to the Opelika-Auburn press that are much more flexible,” Thomasson said. “Many tasks that were initially done manually are now computerized.”

The capabilities for color have also expanded, allowing the production of even more color pages throughout the newspaper than were previously available.

The press used by Opelika-Auburn employs a computerized system that can scan the images for each page which then gets a density reading for the color separation for the three colors of ink that are used: cyan, magenta and yellow, along with black.

After the scan, the press will send out preset values for what the levels of ink will be needed for each page. The computer presets the level of ink needed by the amount of color on the page before printing.

In addition, the Newnan press could only provide eight pages of color on a 16-page run. The Opelika press doubles that capacity – 16 pages of full color on a 32-page run.

It’s because of these kinds of technological advancements that it simply made sense to make the leap.

The Newnan Times-Herald is ultimately striving to provide readers with a much more colorful and sharp product with an aesthetic that will aim to capture the attention of the reader and provide new opportunities in design that previously did not exist.











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