Progress: Making newspapers a reality
From reporting to coordinating advertisements to managing subscriptions, a lot goes into producing and delivering a copy of the Republican Eagle — or any newspaper — to homes, businesses and newsstands.
But it would all be for nothing if not for those who physically put together the paper copies.
The Red Wing office that houses the Republican Eagle also is home to a printing plant that puts out 25 publications weekly and prints some high school and college newspapers and special one-time sections, booklets, flyers and other materials.
RiverTown Multimedia pressroom foreman Dan Johnson said that’s something that likely would surprise a lot of people.
“They think of us as just the R-E, and that’s just a small part of what we do,” he said.
Johnson, who has worked for RiverTown for about 17 years, attended Dakota County Technical College to train for press work. He said he thought there would always be a need for print.
“I’ve always been one that works with my hand, so it suits me,” Johnson added.
In the time since he’s worked at RiverTown, the production process has become much more digitalized.
But while technology has significantly changed the lead-up work, which is now done on computers instead of by hand, “the actual printing process hasn’t really changed,” Johnson said.
Still, the technological advances have streamlined the process and made “leaps and bounds” in the last 10 years or so, Johnson said.
It’s more efficient at times, but also is just another way of doing things, Johnson said — not necessarily worse or better.
Each press room and printing operation also does its work differently, especially depending on what it is producing.
“The principles are the same, the process is different” he said, down to the inks and paper. This is the fourth pressroom Johnson has worked in, he said, including a publishing house and high-end commercial shop.
He said working at a newspaper is also different due to those times when they have to run the paper later than normal because of elections, major sporting events or other planned late-night news — and also the unplanned events, such as the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“It doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen,” he said.
This story originally appeared in part 3 of the 2014 Red Wing Republican Eagle Progress Edition, titled Start to Finish. The three-part series features local businesses, artisans and community groups describing their step-by-step processes.