In 1440, Johannes Gutenberg’s freshly minted printing press changed the course of publishing.
In 2012, it could be the so-called three-around printing method that reshapes the newspaper business, Jim Gore, vice president and general manager of Pressline Services, based in St. Louis, Mo., said.
The three-around system optimizes efficiency by allowing printing press cylinders to produce three pages per revolution instead of the usual two, Gore explained in a presentation Friday, Feb. 10, at the New England Newspaper and Press Association winter convention.
Gore said The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch is the first newspaper to begin the switch to three-around printing, and he focused on its experiences in his presentation.
The Dispatch will print the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Kentucky Enquirer later this year, when Gannett Co. Inc. becomes the first to make the conversion to a three-around-printed newspaper. Gannett, based in McLean, Va., is the largest newspaper group in the country, based on daily circulation.
The Dispatch, which will begin printing its own newspaper via three-around next year, is using Pressline Service’s 3Volution (3V) technology. That system reconfigures existing printing presses to make them compatible with three-around printing.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said. “They get to be the first — the first in the world.”
A large part of the three-around process hinges on reducing the page size of a newspaper from 11.5 by 22 inches to a 10.5-by-14.5-inch format, which would make it easier for readers to hold and flip through the pages, Gore said.
Gore said 3V affords newspapers the chance to increase printing efficiency while cutting newsprint costs by about 33 percent because of the compact format of newspapers printed using the three-around system.
“There’s less equipment necessary, less capital dollars, less consumables — less everything,” Gore said.
The cost efficiency also
extends to color printing in the collect mode, Gore said. Three-around
printing accommodates three different images on the same printing plate
and allows an extra page of color to be printed with each cylinder revolution.
“It takes less press capacity to produce the same circulation,” he said.
Expediency is not the only benefit of three-around, though; besides the new easier-to-manage size, adding more sections to the paper would enhance the consumer’s experience, Gore said.
“(The Dispatch) really want(s) to cater to the readers with the product,” he said.
“(The question was), if we had a clean slate, if there was no newspaper, what size would we pick?” Gore said.
The compact-sized Dispatch will “integrate better with their portfolio of products,” such as the tablet version of the paper, Gore said.
Gore said the smaller page size will not greatly affect the presence of advertising and inserts, nor will it sacrifice content. In fact, the increased sectioning that comes with three-around could actually allow the paper to include more material, he said.
“They don’t want to turn this into a mini-Columbus Dispatch. It’s their opportunity to make it something much better,” he said.
The 3V-engineered Dispatch prototype won nearly unanimous approval earlier this year, according to a survey conducted by the newspaper. About 85 percent of those who received the prototype, all current Dispatch subscribers, had a positive response; only 3 percent of those polled said they would “very likely discontinue” their subscription.
Gore said the Dispatch plans to run a series of focus groups to measure reader opinion before solidifying its new format,
Services is also overseeing The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press’ conversion
from a broadsheet to a stitched tabloid format. Please
see story here.
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