By: Mark Vruno
Hellenic Miller Newsprint Ltd., a joint venture between Hellenic Distribution Agency and Miller Distributors of Malta, has begun digital printing operations in Cyprus. Miller News-print is part of the Miller Malta Group and a major shareholder in Newsfax International Ltd., in London, the U.K.’s largest independent newspaper contract printer. Their production platform features the Kodak Versamark VL4200 Printing System, a roll-to-roll inkjet device that runs up to 410 feet per minute, along with Hunkeler finishing equipment on the back end. By the end of March, agreements were in place to print virtually all the imported press that had been flown in, amounting to 25 leading U.K. and international titles.
“There are environmental and commercial advantages to be gained,” said CEO Malcolm Miller, the visionary entrepreneur standing behind the digital infrastructure. “Publishers are looking for increased sales and improved supply-chain solutions in these challenging times, and we have built up a proven model.
Other locations are currently being finalized, and we should be making further announcements shortly.”
Local production slashes costs. “Over the past two or three years, newspaper sales have declined because of prices being driven up by rising air freight costs,” said Michalis Iacovides, managing director and owner of the operation that distributes almost all of the foreign newspapers in Cyprus. “As an island, we are reliant on air
transportation, and with rising air freight costs set to continue, it made commercial sense to invest in our own printing capabilities.”
RotOcéan installed a similar setup a year ago on Reunion Island, a French outpost in the Indian Ocean. And costs are not the only issue. Delivery times have a big impact on sales, Iacovides said. “A few titles that were being printed in Greece or Turkey were arriving by 8 a.m. and available in shops by 9 to 9:30 a.m. Most of these will now be available for breakfast, at the same price as before.” Some titles were not arriving until the next day.
Hellenic Miller is following the lead of Miller Newsprint, which made the same move in late 2009 after facing cost and delivery pressures in the Republic of Malta to the west, situated about 100 miles south of Sicily. Through the investment, “we can … radically change newspaper production and distribution …,” Miller said at the time. “The Kodak technology means we can supply newspapers around the clock to more than 1,000 outlets across the Maltese Islands.” Miller has retail operations across Malta, with five outlets at the international airport there, in addition to strategically located bookstores, kiosks, and convenience stores. A fleet of more than 40 vehicles supports its distribution network.
The company hand-delivers newspapers to hotels, offices, and homes around the islands.
Today, all 60 international titles that Miller distributes are now printed on-site, resulting in a 50 percent rise in newspaper sales, attracting more readers thanks to competitive pricing and same-day availability. “Some customers have said they receive their paper here earlier than they do at home,” said Miller, whose firm overcame negative perceptions of what the digitally printed products would look like. “When the Financial Times said it was behind us, it became easier to get people on board,” he said. The new Kodak press was officially launched this spring at an inaugural party, co-hosted by the Financial Times, with the finance minister of Cyprus as guest of honor.
Will Offshore Logistics Travel?
Miller prints leading European newspapers such as the Financial Times, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Sunday Mirror, Daily Mirror, and The Daily and Sunday Telegraph for the Maltese Islands’ large international population, which includes tourists and residents. The demand for out-of-market newspapers fluctuates in Malta, which gets approximately 1.2 million visitors each year. On continental Spain, the first digital newspaper press — an Océ JetStream 2200 — was installed in 2009 at contract printer Imcodavila, which produces six daily newspapers and some 20 titles a month, averaging more than 400,000 copies daily.
The question is: Can the distribute-then-print model work here in the U.S.? USA Today two years ago tapped European printer Rotomail to produce the daily on its Versamark VL4200. Through an agreement with Messaggerie Internazionali, an Italian distributor of foreign newspapers, Rotomail is digitally printing an international edition of the Gannett flagship for distribution to hotels and kiosks in major tourist towns and a number of airports, Kodak said.
Meanwhile, to expand their reach stateside, international publishers have partnered with Newsworld and its New Jersey-based printing partner, AlphaGraphics, for the
distribution of titles, including London’s Daily Mail, in New York. AlphaGraphics is running Screen Truepress Jet520 digital print technology.
Printer Launches iPad App
Technology developed by a manroland subsidiary is behind the new iPad application for German daily Main-Echo. Based on the Newsreader by ppi Media, it is the first workflow to combine mobile newspaper content and e-paper editions in a single application. The design of the iPad app is defined once during the project phase in line with the publishers’ wishes and corporate identity. This layout is then used as a template for all mobile newspaper editions. The app does not require any additional manual customizing of the layout, according to ppi.
“This app is ideally integrated in the production processes for the editorial department and prepress technology,” said Ulrich Eymann, managing director of the publishing and printing house Main-Echo. The Newsreader is able to import and display content via an XML over HTTP interface. Apart from editorial articles, this content consists of images, videos, animations, and graphics. Creating and transmitting layout information, as is done by apps for magazines with long deadlines and little time-sensitive content, is no longer required. The news is automatically displayed based on the layout defined during the project phase, the length of the articles, and the image dimensions.
Two Months Until GRAPH EXPO
If you haven’t already done so, mark your calendar — and book your hotel rooms — for a late summer date in Chicago, as North America’s annual GRAPH EXPO printing tradeshow again comes to McCormick Place (Sept. 11-14). Back for its second year is the News Print pavilion, an 8,000-square-foot area dedicated to newspaper production professionals and operations executives. Show management introduced the pavilion in 2010 to capitalize on the demise of Nexpo and the 2009 cancellations of regional production shows. Attendance was bolstered last year by savvy manufacturers, such as Muller Martini, which co-located its annual user-group meetings to coincide with the show, which lured nearly 20,000 visitors — better-than-expected attendance for a very questionable year.Major web-offset press manufacturers will be among some 500 exhibitors, per usual, including Goss, KBA, and manroland. Software and pre- and postpress displays will abound as well as digital press makers, of course. Visit GraphExpo.com.
Media General is now printing the weekly Quantico (Va.) Sentry at the News & Messenger in Manassas, Va. (MedGen also is responsible for the publication’s website.) Serving the Quantico Marine Corps base, the Sentry has a circulation of approximately 11,000. In addition to printing the flagship paper, News & Messenger produces the Culpeper (Va.) Star-Exponent, three weekly newspapers, and the Belvoir Eagle, a weekly distributed at a U.S. Army garrison in Fairfax County, Va.
Utica, N.Y. Daily Switching Print Facilities
GateHouse Media’s Observer-Dispatch switched to a new format and full-color reproduction with its conversion to a new printing facility in mid-June. The newspaper has contracted with Gannett Central New York to print the O-D at its five-year-old Johnson City, N.Y. plant, said president/publisher Donna Donovan. Located about 75 miles away, the new production facility also will handle all mechanical work to insert advertising and other supplements.
The paper had previously been printed on a 65-year-old press, which had been converted decades ago from letterpress to dilitho — both outdated printing technologies. The Gannett Central New York facility features state-of-the-art printing and inserting machinery, including a full-color KBA Colora web-offset press. The O-D has been completely redesigned, Donovan said, to take advantage of the improved technology. It now is streamlined and printed on a narrower roll of newsprint, similar to the format used by USA Today.
Starting in August, the newspaper will begin using a GateHouse Media facility in Downers Grove, Ill., near Chicago, to provide advertising design and production services.
81st Annual INMA World Congress
The International Newsmedia Marketing Association held its 81st annual INMA World Congress in New York in May. Acknowledging that technology is rewiring media consumption habits faster than news publishers can coalesce around business models, INMA contends that strategic planning has shrunk to a two- to three-year window. Beyond that, prognostications are pointless, the organization advises its more than 5,000 members.
In a question-and-answer session, moderator Juan Señor sat with New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and walked through his views on the newspaper’s present and future, and the recently implemented digital paid-content strategy, with which he is satisfied so far. The publisher is also bullish on social media, pointing to the Times’ huge following on Twitter. “The world is moving to social, and you’ve got to be part of the discussion. That’s what drove us,” Sulzberger said. “It is a powerful resource, and it’s where we just have to be.”
Business Day’s “Keep Up” campaign in South Africa won a global marketing award at the INMA Awards 2011 competition. CincinnatiUSA.com was recognized as one of the world’s best marketing portals by the international panel of judges. Run by the Cincinnati USA Regional Tourism Network, the website is part of the Cincinnati.com network operated by Enquirer Media.
Ninety-one campaigns by 72 newspapers were named as finalists across 10 categories, each with three sub-categories according to circulation. Several of the world’s most famous publications were also shortlisted for awards, including The New York Times, The Times of India, The Straits Times, The Seattle Times,
The Sydney Morning Herald, the South China Morning Post, and The Wall Street Journal. Ten of Gannett’s media organizations were among the top winners. The 76-year-old INMA Awards competition generated 550 entries from 143 market-leading newspapers in 30 countries. For a full list of winners, go to INMA.org/modules/awards.
Upcoming WAN-IFRA Events
WAN-IFRA (the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers) has opened registration for the 2012-2014 International Newspaper Color Quality Club, the tenth running of a competition that recognizes newspapers’ color reproduction and printing skills. The biennial contest is the only global printing quality event for newspaper printers. Papers can register under any of four categories: 1) coldset on newsprint, 2) heatset or UV on newsprint, 3) heatset or UV on SC or LWC paper, or 4) newspaper printing on tinted paper or for processes other than offset (i.e. flexo or inkjet). Register by Oct. 17 and receive a complimentary preliminary test evaluation.
Last month, the 10th annual WAN-IFRA Newsplex international newsroom summit in Zurich, Switzerland, featured a keynote address by John Paton, CEO of Journal Register Co. “The most important and most opportunistic time is now for newspapers to make that transition from what we were to what we are going to be,” said Paton, who is 18 months into his new post.
Swiss futurist Gerd Leonhard shared his insight for the next two to five years, showing examples from a global perspective. Leonhard also pointed out the bottom line for the future of news and “content.” So what’s next? Data is the new oil, he said. It’s no longer about social media, but the new social OS (operating system) and the new digital content ecosystem. Content and curation will be more crucial than ever before.
Another conference highlight included the quest to go fully digital by 2015 without completely abandoning print, said Erling Tind Larson, digital manager of Danish firm Berlingske Media. Larson heads up the company’s B.T. website, which is the fastest-growing online news site in Denmark.
KBA Sheetfed Sales Climb; Web-Offset Forecast Still Gloomy
International sales of printing presses were only moderately higher than last year and primarily driven by demand from China and other emerging economies, reported German manufacturer KBA. But most of its growth was on the sheetfed side, as orders for newspaper and commercial presses stagnated in the wake of structural changes wrought by the spread of e-media, the company explained as part of its quarterly earnings announcement. Business was better in the sheetfed sector, where the Internet has had less of an impact, and packaging printing has helped to fuel growth. With demand for big web presses unlikely to revive in the foreseeable future, management said it sees a need for further capacity adjustments at KBA’s web press production plants.
North American sales accounted for only 7.6 percent, down from 15 percent. “This historic low reflects a continuing reluctance among U.S. newspaper printers to invest in the new kit,” KBA said.