Actual news, not personal news that is.
Since June I’ve been volunteering as editor for Tenants’ Times -Soha’s community newspaper written by tenants, for tenants which comes out three times a year. I thought I blogged about that but if I did I can’t find it. And as a part of that I’ve been doing a foundation course in Journalism once a month since October. It’s interesting and I mostly enjoy it although cruch time for Tenants Times can be frantic and exhausting.
Yesterday I was part of a group of people (all community journalists from 4 different hyperlocal newspapers) who visited Newbury Weekly News.
Newbury Weekly News is a newspaper written, produced and printed in Newbury. They are one of only a few newspapers printed like that now. The company also print other papers, mostly independents (community newspapers, newsletters, small local papers etc) – currently they print in the region of 60 titles covering an area from Cornwall to Manchester (a selection is in the picture). This is one way in which the internet has changed things – previously they could only print stuff that people could physically get to them so their range was much smaller.
We got to have a look round, see the various teams working on putting it together in the offices – design, copy etc. We chatted to the editor and several other people. Without exception everyone we met was so enthusiastic about news and about what they do and what we do with our papers and happy to answer questions and discuss things. We learned about the history of the company (which was started in 1867) and heard various anecdotes.
After lunch (yummy!) and more chat we got to go look round at the physical production side and see the print presses (they have two complete presses) and also see the CTP area (computer to plate – where they take the computer files and turn them into physical aluminium plates for the presses. Everything on both sides was so interesting and I could have stayed there chatting for a lot longer. I also wished I had taken notes. I did a bit of live tweeting over on the Tenants Times twitter account though.
A few stats and pics. Some of these seemed unbelieve to me and I’m not sure I’ll look at a newspaper in the same way again knowing so much more about what goes into making it.
Big rolls of paper. There were loads of these as you might imagine. The ones in this picture are double width and contain in the region of 21KM of paper each which is enough to print 14,000 32 page newspapers. I didn’t make a note of this but I think they said these weigh over one ton each.
This is a not very clear (a bit too dark) picture of the well or tray (not sure what the technical term is) containing one of the colours of ink for the press – in this case Cyan or as I called it blue. 30kg of ink fits in those which was one of those numbers that made me think “wow that’s huge.” And in total Newbury Weekly News use 80 tons of ink yearly. Which is a number I can’t quite get my head round.
Many computer monitors were on the desk in the CTP (computer to plate) area. I’m not sure I’ve seen so many monitors on one desk before. When computer files arrive they have to be taken through various processes before the plates can be made and printing can begin. One of which is to adjust the colours/files from the three colour setting computers use to the four colour settings printing uses.
We also got to see some just made plates but I didn’t take any photos. These are made from very high grade aluminium and are brand new. After their one use they are sent for recycling but the recycled product can’t be used for print plates again. The plates are photographic so the lighting where the machines were was yellow as normal light would damage them.
Right before we left we saw the presses started and got to watch them in action. This showed finished pages on the tracks hanging down. It takes approx 35 seconds to go from blank paper to finished newspaper.
It was such a fun and educational trip and I really enjoyed it. I’d like to thank everyone we met for their time and encouragement whilst we were there.