The Herald updates production methods
A new system will streamline the Herald's production process and improve the quality of printed photographs for readers and customers. Computer-to-plate equipment was installed at the production plant earlier this week and used for the first time...
A new system will streamline the Herald's production process and improve the quality of printed photographs for readers and customers.
Computer-to-plate equipment was installed at the production plant earlier this week and used for the first time Wednesday night to produce Thursday's issue of the Herald.
IT Manager Mark Young said customers will notice crisper, sharper images in the newspaper because of the change. In the past, color photographs could sometimes blur because there had to be a film negative made for each ink color -- cyan, magenta, yellow and black.
The negatives are created from images of pages designed at the downtown office building. After that step, the negative is burned onto an aluminum printing plate that transfers ink to a rubber blanket before the image is finally transferred onto paper.
But the new equipment allows employees to skip the film negative process altogether and go directly from the computer to the printing plate. That results in "much crisper" color images in the newspaper, Young said.
He pointed to a photo of Red River High School catcher Erick Huderle in Friday's sports section as an example of the improvement.
"You can see the individual hairs on his head and the grooves in the bottom of his shoes, which we would have never seen before," Young said.
Young said the switch will save about 50 minutes nightly at the production plant in the industrial park, the amount of time it used to take to burn plates from the negatives. The biggest time savings will happen with Agweek magazine, he said.
One open press position wasn't filled because of the change, Young said, adding that burning negatives was a "whole 40-hour a week job."
He said it's something that newspapers across the country are switching to because it's getting harder to purchase the required film and new film imagers are no longer manufactured.
Publisher Mike Jacobs said it's a "big step" for the Herald that will improve printing quality and make for a better product. The technology also reduces the time it takes to create the printing plates for the press, allowing for later print deadlines -- an important thing in getting late sports scores into the paper.
He sees it as the most recent example of something the Herald has long been known for.
"The Herald has a long history of early adoption of technology," Jacobs said. "It was the first paper in North Dakota to receive national and world news by wire, for example. And it was among the first to install an offset printing press."
Still, he said it's "a marvel" to look at the changes that have happened to printing methods.
"I started in the newspaper business in the days of hot type and handset headlines," Jacobs said. "Today, all of this is done through computer technology and photographic imaging."
Reach Johnson at (701) 780-1105; (800) 477-6572, ext. 105; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .