Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Times to build $15M press facility; offset European press (WIFAG) expected to roll in 2010

When your company (Gannett) invests in a $15M printing press project against negative prognostications for print newspapers, you say THANK YOU.

The Times has purchased an offset press and will build a facility on our existing property in downtown Shreveport.

What does this mean to local newspaper readers?

· In color and sharpness, think USA Today.

· Crisp, sophisticated graphics.

· Photographs with depth and detail.

· Refined and easier-to-read text.

· A uniquely modern product.

“We believe print is here to stay, even though the Internet is a bigger part of what we do,” Times Publisher Pete Zanmiller says in today’s announcement story. “This press will allow us to give a modern-day paper to the city.”

When The Times puts its 1960s letterpress to rest in 2010, our European press replacement will position your newspaper for the future. Vivid offset color will be available on every page for news and information and for advertisers. The new format will be the more portable and easier-to-handle Berliner format, an 18.5-by-11-inch page size. (The press was developed and manufactured by WIFAG.)

This press will make us the third North American paper to commit to the Berliner format, following the successful 2006 conversion of another Gannett newspaper, Lafayette, Ind., and the expected 2009 conversion of the Reading (Pa) Eagle.

Producing a higher-quality product on a modern press means we’ll be delivering news to doorsteps for years to come. While more and more people go online, the masses still enjoy their morning newspaper. We are in the hands of more than 130K readers every day (200K on Sundays). Many of those same readers are online too, tracking news updates.

Along with online-only readers, visitors (Over 400K per month) are viewing more than 6M pages of news, photos and videos each month. News consumption isn’t wavering; it’s just changing. And we are changing with it.

If you want to be involved in helping mold The Times of the future, send me a line and a little bit about yourself. I’m building a list of dedicated readers who want to help build the next incarnation of The Times. We’ll have a few informal meetings in 2008 as a prelude to the hands-on work we’ll do in 2009.

With all that is happening in our community ( I-49 to Cyber Command to the burgeoning movie industry (movies coming, extras, Denzel Washington), it’s about time for a face-lift. An offset press producing bright color, crisp text and graphics will showcase many of the great moments yet to come.

Times photo: The Times purchased this four-story, 1991 WIFAG Press from a company in Switzerland. The press is a WIFAG OF 790, currently in operation in Ringier, Switzerland.

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