June 29, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Start the presses!

Staff Writer

ELYRIA — The Gazette will still make its way to readers every Monday through Saturday morning. But the newspaper will now take a slightly longer journey before getting there.

The Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, The Gazette’s sister publication, recently spent $12 million on renovations and technology updates at its offices on East Avenue. Included in this are a new printing press, plate lasersetter and insert machine the Chronicle-Telegram will share with The Gazette so it can print both newspapers, resulting in quicker turnaround and higher-quality printing for The Gazette.

“A lot of what we’re doing is really consolidating the data, machinery and everything,” Gazette Publisher George D. Hudnutt said.

He explained prior to the recent renovations, The Chronicle and Gazette had analog presses that required manual adjustment of controls to change ink levels. However, he said, many newspapers throughout the country are turning to digital presses that require a simple press of a button to perform the same task.

“The cost to retrofit the old press for digital controls was more expensive than buying this new press,” Hudnutt said.

Installation of a new mailroom inserter stacker system at the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram will allow advertising inserts in the Tuesday Gazette, which is delivered throughout Medina County, to be placed into the newspapers as soon as they come off the presses. (Elyria Chronicle-Telegraph photo)

It was also expensive for his family’s company, Lorain County Printing and Publishing, to regularly buy new printing technology for The Gazette and The Chronicle for the 44 years it has owned The Gazette. “It really becomes prohibitive when you’re only 30 miles apart to keep buying two of everything,” he said.

He and his brother, Chronicle Publisher Cooper Hudnutt, decided it was time to make things a little easier for everyone.

“Basically, we’re not doing anything different than any other paper in the country that has multiple papers in close proximity. It’s consolidating,” Cooper Hudnutt said.

The first phase of the project involved making room for the immense machines that would produce anywhere from 40,000 to 100,000 newspapers in one night. The Chronicle extended its offices and warehouses over an alley to its property line to create a 29,000-square-foot mailroom that would house storage space and sorting machines.

The new space, George Hudnutt explained, is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEEDs) certified, meaning the building is energy-efficient in its construction and will be so in its everyday operations. It is also in the running to receive gold star certification for its energy efficiency from the U.S. Green Building Council, the organization that promotes the LEEDs system.

As part of this project, Lorain County Printing and Publishing purchased a 10-year-old, nine-unit Goss HO press for $2 million from the Indianapolis Star.

The Star, Cooper Hudnutt explained, recently upgraded its presses and the press The Chronicle received was the newest of the machines the Star replaced.

The installation of the press began in the spring and finished this month, but The Chronicle has been using it since July. Cooper Hudnutt said he has seen faster turnaround and higher-quality printing.

But the change for the better will be even more drastic for The Gazette, George Hudnutt said. The press, which can produce about 40,000 copies an hour, will be able to handle The Gazette’s daily edition in a half-hour. The press at the Medina office took two hours to print one day’s edition, plus another 2½ hours to add inserts into the newspapers.

“We’ll have color on Page One every day,” George Hudnutt said. “In the past we had to limit some advertisers from when they could use color. We won’t have to do that anymore.”

The technology upgrade also involved the purchase of two new plate lasersetters and inserting technology.

The Direct to Plate lasersetter, which cost about $500,000, uses laser technology to bypass the use of negatives to print machine. Prior to the upgrade, George Hudnutt explained, the plates that pressed images onto newspaper were made from negatives. “Instead of going from negative to the plate, this goes directly to the plate,” he said. “It will increase the quality in that one step.”

In addition, the new Quip Mailroom inserter stacker system will be able to place inserts into the newspapers, such as those that appear in the Tuesday Gazette that is delivered countywide, as soon as they are produced.

George Hudnutt explained the inserts for the Tuesday edition previously were collated on Saturdays and inserted into the newspaper on Tuesday.

“We’re looking at 12 hours to put out the Tuesday paper,” he explained. Now it can be done in under two.

Cooper and George Hudnutt said the new press might mean more cooperation between their two papers and the rest of their family’s holdings. Lorain County Printing and Publishing also owns five radio stations, including 107.3 FM The Wave in Cleveland, and four weekly newspapers throughout Northeast Ohio, including West Life in Westlake.

“I think one of the things we are going to try to do is market ourselves as a media company,” George Hudnutt said, explaining advertisers could have the opportunity to reach audiences of all papers and radio stations. “But we’re still going to have … staff in Medina. We’re always going to maintain a presence in Medina with gathering all of the local news daily, along with having a strong sales and classified team at the current 885 W. Liberty St. location.”

Kacik may be reached at 330-721-4049 or mkacik@ohio.net.