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After a lot of talk and visits by a multitude of contractors, our newspaper is taking another step forward.
We are investing in technology that will allow us to eliminate one of the steps in getting the newspaper to you.
For many years, we have been designing the newspaper on computers, then sending those “pages” to a machine that sets them on news-page-sized film.
Then the film is used to make a thin, news-page-sized plate that attaches to the press and imprints the text and images that you see every week.
Our massive new machines will eliminate the film step. The machines are called CTPs — computer-to-plate — and they will allow us to work a little more quickly and possibly deliver a bit more crisp image.
I can’t explain the technology much better than I can tell you how a microwave works, but I do know the machines use heat to literally burn the newspaper images to the plate.
We’re doing a major renovation project to make room for the big new machines.
In this tough economy, it’s nice to know we are not just investing in our business but also giving some contractors and their people much-needed work.
Although we’ll probably have a learning curve to deal with, many of us are looking forward to the new machines.
The older technology could make us crazy at times.
The machine that set the pages to film seemed to have a twisted sense of humor. It had a knack for running out of film any time we were A) running behind; or B) sending the very last page.
The beeping signal that it was out of film always sounded to me like a taunting computerized laugh.
Here in the newsroom, we’d often hear that snarky sound, then a groan from Joann, our graphics employee tasked with reloading the film.
I won’t (I hope) miss that old machine.
We’re getting two of the new CTPs, just in case of a malfunction. They are so important to us that we’re building them their own large sparkling, clean room with new drywall and newly tiled floors.
CTP machines are major heat-producers — using temperatures in excess of 400 degrees to burn those plates.
Because of the excess heat, some extra doors are going up around the building.
One — which was installed last week — is between the graphics department and the newsroom.
While both sides like each other, the door will have an added benefit — keeping down noise and helping people stay focused on their work.
The whole process should take about a month. If you drop by the office in October and it seems more chaotic than usual, you’ll understand why.
But don’t let that stop you. We’d love to have you come by anyway.