Gannett Paper Hopes Dilitho in Utica Will Last Another 10-20 Years

By: Meg Campbell

The Utica (N.Y.) Observer-Dispatch has been printing on a second-hand Goss Headliner for more than 30 years, and the publisher is optimistic that there?s still a decade or two of life left in the old converted letterpress, now that the paper has harvested truckloads of original parts from the press? other half.

The Observer-Dispatch and sister paper Star-Gazette, in Elmira, had split the letterpress purchased from the Advance Publications’ Syracuse newspapers back in the 1970s, and used the two halves — converted to direct lithography — to print their respective papers ever since. A few months ago, however, Elmira took its half out of production when it began offset printing at Gannett?s state-of-the-art facility in Johnson City, which it shares with the nearby Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin and The Ithaca Journal. The idle dilitho press was promptly disassembled and stripped for parts by Utica’s eager production staff, who have been hauling back the pieces for the last few weeks.

?We?re scavenging for spare parts,? says publisher Donna Donovan, explaining that the original parts will add significant time to the press? life. ?The iron itself is basically good, and with these original parts, we might be able to go another 10 or 20 years.?

Utica prints more than 41,000 copies daily (more than 48,000 on Sunday) on the letterpress, using spot and process color. The paper prints weeklies and specialty publications on a second, offset press, an Atlas Web Leader.

Although the Observer-Dispatch has stuck with the same press, it has overhauled other operations. The paper recently installed a direct-to-plate system, and upgraded its advertising system following the acquisition of Mid York Weekly and shoppers. On the web side, the paper has invested in state-of-the-art broadcast equipment.

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