Behind the News
YOUR local newspaper is a business and like any business must be managed to a profit in order to survive.
But it is unlike other commercial enterprises in the awesome responsibility that it carries and the opportunity it provides for customer participation.
Your newspaper, like bread and milk, is brought regularly into almost every home.
Country people read it so they know what’s happening in their home community.
They seek guidance from civic leaders and peers on what’s wrong with their society and how they should react.
People set their values and form their attitudes from the media, or more accurately in closer communities, their newspaper.
The Local Press thus has a great capacity for doing good.
With few exceptions, editors and proprietors recognise the tremendous responsibility that the vehicle in their trust demands for society to benefit.
The Press is free to criticise, within bounds of defamation, political candidates, councillors, business or indeed any section of the local community that incurs its displeasure.
Rightly used, the Local Press is one of the great institutions of democracy and one of the guarantors of social justice in country communities.
To operate to its full potential, however, your newspaper needs input from you, the reader.
The perspective of editors and journalists may be entertaining and fine but, unfortunately, only represents one of the myriad of possible viewpoints.
By and large civilisation doesn’t bound forward from weightly editorials and inspiring speeches by editors and publishers.
History shows that most community advances evolve through consensus, following persuasive argument by average people, unafraid to review existing norms.
In this spirit editors actively seek contributions for their Letters columns. They delight in presenting a range of opinion, especially on subjects of direct local impact.
Naturally preference is given to letters carrying names rather than nom-de-plummes, so please sign your name with pride.
Nom-de-plummes under letters, unless there’s a high risk of repercussion to the writer, reduces the newspaper’s Letters column to the infantile drivel found in the Herald-Sun newspaper’s 50-50 section.
Western Victoria isn’t Bogota or Beirut. No-one here is going to send ‘the boys’ around because you’ve expressed an opinion on something.
Similarly, other readers are reluctant to debate an issue with anunnamed writer.
Your local newspaper is like family. Enjoy its company and use it . . . and we’ll all benefit.
Your questions answered . . .
Q: How long is a roll of newsprint?
A: 11 kilometres.
Q: What colours of stock are used?
A: White for the general news pages and pink, yellow or green for advertising supplements.
Q: What is the weight of one roll?
A: 1/2 tonne of 500 kilos.
Q: Where do all the roll ends go?
A: They are sold to schools, kindergartens and individuals for economical use.
Q: How much does a roll of newsprint cost?
A: Newsprint delivered to Hamilton costs $970 a tonne. On average a roll is valued at $485. Roll weights do vary.
Q: How long does the printer take to print the paper and how many copies are printed per minute?
A: The Spectator printing machine prints around 7040 copies of the paper in 40 minutes at an average rate of 176 copies per minute.
Computers, newspapers and you
COMPUTERS, desk top publishing software and off-set printing have revolutionised the newspaper industry in the last 20 years. The Spectator has kept abreast of these industry trends and has at times been in the forefront of technology development.
Until 20 years ago all journalists typed their stories on copy paper using a typewriter before handing their “hard copy” to the sub editor for checking and layout.
The hard copy was set in metal slugs by a Linotype operator and these cast metal blocks of type were locked into a form creating a page. The forms were then positioned on a letterpress printing press with ink applied to the type by roller and the paper impressed upon the type to produce an image.
Today computers control and streamline all processes of our newspaper operation except the final printing of the publication.
The journalists use a networked PC to type their stories and store the file to a file server. The sub editors retrieve these files, edit and allocate codes for line length, type, style and size.
The completed story files are then imported to desktop publishing software, run on powerful Macintosh computers, for positioning on their allocated page with the inclusion of advertisements, graphics and photographs. Complete page files are processed and handled by print queues to one of our high quality lasers which has up to 1800 dots per inch resolution.
The dark room enlarger is being phased out of existence by PowerMac PCs attached to negative and flat bed scanners running the latest version of Photoshop. This software allows exceptional control over all aspects of photo reproduction and is capable of separating and producing full colour reproduction in our newspapers.
Our offices at Portland and Casterton are linked by modem to this computer network. Data files and complete pages are sent via telephone to Hamilton to produce their newspaper.
How our newspapers are printed
PRODUCTION of a newspaper involves combining the skills of a diverse range of individuals to ensure the paper is delivered on time.
More than 20 people including typesetters, compositors, proof readers, camera operators, press operators and dispatchers work full-time in the Spectator’s production department as well as a number of casual collators.
Once the marked-up (edited) copy has been put into the computer by the typesetters, they then code in the font (or typeface), the font size and the column width.
A laser proof on plain paper is then printed out by the computer and taken to the proof reading room where the proof reader and copy holder scan the original story printout and the laser proof for discrepencies.
Once the proof has been returned to the typesetters for corrections it is then taken to the typesetting machine which is kept in an air conditioned room as it is highly dust and heat sensitive.
This typesetting machine converts the proof into a highly light sensitive film which remains in a protective black box until it is inserted onto the film processor.
The processor decodes the film and produces a bromide which is then pasted-up by the compositors in the paste-up area.
Each page is cut to fit the layout specified by the sub-editor and photographs and advertisements are sized up and pasted into place.
The editor checks the page for correct headlines and captions before each page is taken into the camera room where it is individually shot to produce a negative.
The negatives are then marked up on sheets and opaqued for imperfections before they are burnt onto Light sensitive plates. The ultra violet light burns through the clear area of the negative to leave an image of the words on a plate.
These plates are then bent to fit the cylinders of the printing press. The Spectator’s printing press comprises six eight page units which each cost some $380,000 and a folding machine which cost around $475,000.
Water, which is repelled by the solid area of the plate, is run across the surface to fill in the non-printed spaces.
The ink immediately following the water, goes to the type area and prints the story onto a blanket, which then provides the template for the newsprint running through the machine.
Production manager, Mr Peter Weston said the Spectator’s print run of 9000 copies generally took 50 minutes to produce, printing 176 copies per minute.
The automatic folder cuts and folds the pages and extra advertising inserts are then manually inserted into the paper by the casual collators.
The company has also purchased an automatic strapping machine to bind copies of the paper together.
Designing an advertisement
In the advertising department of any newspaper, it soon becomes apparent that many of the basic skills learnt at school come in very handy.
Reading, writing, arithmetic and some artistic or design aptitude.
Once the sales person has obtained an order to run an advertisement in the paper, the copy (words and pictures) are presented as a visual rough or sample.
This approved visual is sent to the production department where the normal techniques for newspaper production are used. The copy is typeset and the art-photographs are prepared.
It is in this department that effects are created; stipples (greys), reverses (white on black images), reductions and enlargements of logos, artwork or photographs.
Printing Mechanical Transfers are made, these are called line PMTs for drawing or unscreened photographs and tone PMTs when color pictures are converted into black and white.
Ads are then passed into their final configuration as decided by the advertiser and salesperson. Sometimes the client will receive a near-finished sample called a proof.
Our papers welcome letters from its readers. The letters column is your chance to have your say. It is your forum and newspapers regard feedback in the form of letters from readers as a healthy sign that the material they are publishing is stimulating community debate, comment and feedback.
Hopefully you will be able to keep your letters to 330 words or less. If not, they run the risk of being cut by the editor.
Extremely long, boring letters may not make it into print at all. So say what you have to say by all means, but keep it as brief and to the point as possible.
If your letter is selected from online submissions you will be contacted and more details will be required.
Submit your letter with signature and address to:
59 Gray Street