By: Jim Rosenberg
When Transcontinental begins using a higher-quality stock to print page one and section fronts for the San Francisco Chronicle next week, the paper will not be the glossy stock suggested in earlier reports.
The upgrade, first mentioned in an Oct. 27 story by Chronicle staff writer David R. Baker, will be to supercalendered paper. A groundwood-grade sheet that is smoother than ordinary newsprint but only somewhat glossier, it is used by some Sunday supplements, other publications, mass-market catalogs and some freestanding inserts. It will not be the paper that readers associate with glossy magazines and high-end catalogs.
But the Chronicle’s pages may appear glossy nevertheless. Transcontinental Northern California General Manager Kathy Hunter explained that the new Fremont plant “will be using the heatset process on this paper.”
The plant’s triplewide manroland Colorman XXL presses are equipped with dryers for the heatset inks, which sit atop the sheet rather than soaking into it, as conventional coldest inks do with newsprint. By being dried on the surface, the inks retain their luster, giving the printed image a glossy look.
The upgraded printing will afford the additional benefit of providing other supercalendered pages across the same heatset web — page two and typically the last and second-to-last pages of a section, providing advertising positions with magazine-quality reproduction.
Unusual stock is nothing new at the Chronicle, where the Sporting Green sports section long used green-tinted newsprint.
The Chronicle’s improved appearance should aid its visibility in the coming competition the local news that The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times are adding to their editions distributed in the Bay Area. Those moves into local coverage come at a time when the Chronicle’s chronic circulation losses continue, with the weekday average down to little more than 250,000 in the ABC FAS-FAX report for the six months ended Sept 30.