By: Jim Rosenberg
Indiana’s second-oldest newspaper will convert from broadsheet to compact format when the Journal and Courier in Lafayette rolls off a new MAN Roland offset press in a $23 million production facility now under construction southeast of the city.
But when the Gannett paper makes its conversion next year, from a 41-year-old letterpress running 54-inch-wide webs, it will be no mere tabloid.
The 37,000-circ Journal and Courier will become the first North American daily produced in Berliner format — a deep or long tabloid that can be designed to look like a smaller broadsheet, including the second fold across the middle. So, unlike conventional tabloids, it will allow production of the same separate, physical sections that facilitate inserting the larger, traditional broadsheet.
Executives from MAN Roland Inc., Gannett, and the Courier and Journal jointly announced the conversion Saturday at the Nexpo trade show and conference, where copies of a prototype — printed on a MAN Geoman press in Austria — were available.
The Journal and Courier will install a three-tower Geoman configured for production in the Berliner format. “Today is the day we announce the first in North America,” said MAN Web Press Operations COO Vince Lapinski.
The press will have eight couples in each tower for full-color printing on 48 pages, cylinders for 18.5-inch cut-off and a 48-inch-wide web, four in-line, end-mounted reelstands, five formers — two pairs and one commercial former for webs up to 35 inches wide, 2:3:3 jaw folder and quarterfolding capability, stitcher, and Pecom controls.
Plans for the press hall provide for installation of another tower and reelstand on the opposite side of the tower.
The decision was made jointly by Gannett and Journal and Courier management, according to Mark S. Mikolajczyk, Gannett’s senior vice president, operations. He called the paper “a prototype site” that will serve as a test bed for the format, which is popular in Germany and found elsewhere in Europe.
Gannett Newspaper Division President Gary Watson described the Journal and Courier project as a continuation of “firsts” it achieved in cooperation with MAN — among them, the country’s first tower press, first all-jaw-folder, and first seven-former press.
Journal and Courier President and Publisher Gary Suisman said the decision was made after about 12 hours of consultation with focus groups of younger, older, and occasional readers. Only one loyal reader absolutely did not like the change, according to Suisman.
While the groups delivered mostly positive responses, Suisman added, advertisers have yet to be surveyed.
Conversion to compact editions is a recent trend begun in England. Citing recent examples from Ireland and Belgium, Lapinski said the trend has spread elsewhere in Europe and to Australia and Latin America. “Certainly for the future I think this will be a more popular configuration,” he said. MAN foresees future conversions in Russia and China.
Advance Publications announced today that its Jersey Journal, in Jersey City, N.J., will move from a broadsheet to standard tabloid format on April 25.