The Post and Courier newspaper in Charleston, S.C. has announced the purchase of a 2008 Goss Magnum Single Width Press, originally housed in Skelleftca, Sweden. According to a press release, the press is currently being dismantled, crated and transported via container ship to the U.S. with an expected arrival time of March 2021.
In this time of consolation of print sites and massive cutbacks within our industry, I am encouraged that the Post and Courier is taking this bold step to show the confidence they have in both quality journalism and the continuing desire of readers for a printed product.
In 2020, as many news gathering organizations were cutting back staff, the Post and Courier expanded coverage by launching daily news operations in Columbia, Greenville and Myrtle Beach, S.C. The company currently boasts a staff of 92 journalists and photojournalists and remains the largest new organization in the state. In addition, they have continued to show the strength of their newsroom as a Pulitzer Prize finalist five times and winning their second Pulitzer Prize Award in 2015.
The Post and Courier is a family-owned newspaper founded in 1803, the oldest in South Carolina and the second oldest in the U.S. It’s obvious that Evening Post Industries, the parent company, believes in the power of the printed word and continues to step up by making this sizable investment in their properties.
Pierre Manigault, chairman of the board of directors for Evening Post, stated in a press release announcing the purchase: “The new press is the next step forward in our commitment to expanding professional journalism in South Carolina. As we move toward developing better digital access of our content, we will continue providing the quality print products readers have come to expect from our newspapers. The new press allows us to more efficiently produce improved versions of our own publications while giving us more capacity to continue printing products for other businesses in the communities we serve. We invest in the best content-distribution platforms possible because we value our journalistic obligation to ensure that readers continue to receive the information they need in the manner they want.”
I recently interviewed P.J. Browning, Post and Courier publisher, to gain more insight about their upcoming press purchase and installation. Her answers are below.
Many newspapers across the country are consolidating operations or outsourcing printing. In addition, majority of newspapers in the country are focusing on digital. Why would you decide to put in a new press at this time?
Browning: We currently have two presses located in our downtown Charleston facility. Our owners have 12 acres around the Post and Courier and developed phase one of Courier Square a couple of years ago. The plan is to continue new development on the property where the newspaper facility sits. So, we find it necessary to move into a new printing facility. We believe we’ll still be printing newspapers for years to come in some form or fashion.
Did you consider outsourcing instead of investing in a new press?
Browning: We looked at outsourcing, but our family of newspapers in South Carolina consists of multiple weeklies that are printed at the Post and Courier facility. If we were simply moving one newspaper, it might have been an option, but considering all of the printing we do, it wasn’t financially viable to outsource.
Coming off of a devastating year for many newspapers due to the COVID pandemic, purchasing a press is a bold move. What are your thoughts behind the future growth for the Post and Courier?
Browning: The pandemic has certainly been devastating from an advertising standpoint, but it’s actually not been so from a readership standpoint. Many newspapers actually grew digital subscriptions and some home delivery. People wanted news and we were there to provide it. The area of circulation that was hardest hit was single copy but that was due to stores that were closed for a period of time. Many of those are not open that sell our newspapers. The Post and Courier is in a growth market and we will continue to promote the importance of local journalism to the markets we serve.
What type of presses do you have now and why do you feel they need to be replaced?
Browning: We have two Goss Metro presses that are old and to move them would most likely require us to build a building. The press height alone is outdated as today the new press will only need 21 feet of clearance. This opens up a lot of opportunities for suitable locations without the cost of building. Our presses are at the age that we have to spend a lot of capital to keep them in operation so a new press will allow capital avoidance in many areas.
Your press release states that you will be replacing two presses. How are you planning to replace two presses with one?
Browning: The Goss Magnum press will have two folders which is similar to having two presses as we can run two jobs simultaneously at 40,000 per hour off of each folder. This is more than sufficient for our current press runs and allows less waste on our smaller weeklies.
What was your reasoning for going with a Goss Magnum Single Width Press?
Browning: We like the size, the capabilities of running multiple sizes and the two-folder option. This press is also the same one we have in our other Aiken, S.C. facility, which is a 2005 Goss Magnum. We wanted to have complimentary presses within our production facilities so that we can easily back one another up.
Is the new delivery through a single folder or are there additional folder deliveries?
Browning: The Goss Magnum will have two folders, both capable of half and quarter folding.
I understand your new press will be made up of eight printing towers. How does this tie into future plans for expansion of color printing in your daily paper?
Browning: The makeup of the newspaper will be different with this press. If we stay with a broadsheet, then we’ll be in two sections. If we move to a long tab, we will run one 64 page section.
What is the page capacity of your new press?
Browning: 40 pages for a broadsheet
What automation does the press come with (i.e., automatic ink sets, registration systems, etc.)?
Browning: It has automatic ink sets, Technotrans ink levelers and a QTI Multicam auto registration system.
Do you anticipate making any changes in the mailroom as a result of the press installation?
Browning: At this time, we will move our G60 inserter with us. The only real change will be an updated facility which will include a centralized distribution center on site.
Will you be installing any new conveyor systems or new mailroom equipment as a direct result of your press installation?
Browning: Based on this press, we will need a different type of stacker but everything else will remain the same. We will not need our older stitcher and trimmer as our #1 folder is equipped with two mechanical Tolerans Speedliner stitchers in-line.
Will you be changing the size of your web and/or cut-off? If so, how do you anticipate that change will be accepted by readers?
Browning: We will look at this but will do reader focus groups before making any changes.
Will any equipment changes take place in the plate making area of your operation?
What does the investment in a new press mean for the future of any outside printing plans you may have? Does this allow an expansion of your current commercial printing?
Browning: Yes, this will allow for growth in commercial printing. We currently work jobs between the Aiken and Charleston facilities, but now with compatible presses ,it will be easier to schedule jobs and have backup plans.
Will this installation create any new jobs in your pressroom or any other area of your operation?
Browning: At this point we believe everything will stay the same on the personnel needs.
When do you plan to have this press go online?
Browning: We hope we will be up and running in the fall of this year.
What company (vendor) will be doing the installation? Why did you decide on them?
Browning: We are working with Impressions Worldwide. They also installed the press in Aiken a couple of years ago and we have a good working relationship with them.
Do you expect a new equipment learning curve for pressmen?
Browning: Yes, we do. The press employees are really excited about the new press but also a little anxious. It’s a chance for many of them to learn a new press and new operating system.
Will the new press installation give you any additional deadline time on the front-end (newsroom)?
Browning: We are not planning on changing any of our deadlines at this time. This is something that we can be flexible with but have not pushed to make any significant changes.
You mention that with the addition of the new press, the newspaper will seek to relocate. Could you provide some additional details on this?
Browning: As previously mentioned, our company is looking to develop the remaining downtown property as phase two of Courier Square. To do this, we need to relocate our production and office facilities. We are in the heart of downtown Charleston which makes it very difficult to get 18 wheelers to our facility as other buildings are coming up around us.
For those of you on the production side, this press is an impressive piece of machinery and would be a dream to have in any shop. Eight towers with two N40 folders, in-line stitching/ trimming (as mentioned above) and loads of other bells and whistles.
A short list of features includes Thirty-two printing units, shaftless footprint with SGGS Parker AC Drive system, centralized grease lubrication on the operator’s side, motorized register system, motorized ink fountain rollers, Goss Remote Inking, ink levelers, four nozzle Baldwin Spray bars, Baldwin blanket wash system and web break detectors on each tower.
Taking a closer look at the folders, each has upper and lower air formers with blowers (steep angle lower formers/standard upper), quarter-folder, reverse fly half-folders and motorized delivery belts. In addition to all of this, folder one also boasts two mechanical tolerance speed liner stitchers saving off-line stitching and trimming.
Paper is supplied to press by eight AR70A pasters (underground web leads) with a Baldwin Wash applicator on outlet and the appropriate array of turn bars.
With improved print quality and a strong commitment to journalistic excellence, the real winners are going to be the communities and readers throughout the Post and Courier service areas of South Carolina.
Jerry Simpkins has more than 30 years of experience in printing and operations in the newspaper industry. Contact him on LinkedIn.com or at email@example.com.