Republican Eagle celebrates 155th anniversaryWhile the Republican Eagle publishes newspaper issues twice a week, the two presses housed just behind the newsroom and advertising offices don’t get to sit idle on workdays.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
While the Republican Eagle publishes newspaper issues twice a week, the two presses housed just behind the newsroom and advertising offices don’t get to sit idle on workdays.
Instead, the giant machines put in longer weeks than many of the newspaper’s human employees.
“They average between 40 to 55 hours a week,” said Dave Pevonka, production director for RiverTown Multimedia, which operates the R-E and nine other area newspapers. Forum Communications Co. owns the group.
September marked the Republican Eagle’s 155th anniversary. To celebrate, the R-E is opening its doors to trick-or-treaters and their caretakers Oct. 31 for candy and tours of the entire building – including the pressroom and pre-press room.
Tours will lead costume-clad visitors first through the newsroom, advertising, composing and circulation sections, where guides will explain what goes on in each area.
Groups will then enter the pre-press room, which is where the aluminum plates – which act like giant rubber stamps to print each newspaper page - are made. Press room manager Dan Johnson said technology has changed this process quite a bit within the last 10 years.
“Before (this process took) as many as 20 minutes,” Johnson said, and involved laying out the articles and photographs on a masking sheet before the aluminum plates were made.
“They used to do cut and paste with razor blades for boarders and headlines,” Pevonka added.
Now that page-to-plate process is down to just six or seven minutes. Pages are laid out using computers and the content “goes straight from the computer onto the plate,” Johnson said.
The pre-press room goes through about 30,000 of these high-grade aluminum plates each year, Johnson added. Once the newspapers are printed, the plates are recycled.
From there, tour groups will be shown where the actual newspapers are printed. The two presses are housed in a large warehouse next to the prepress room.
“We print four days a week,” Johnson said.
The pressroom goes through about 160,000 pounds of paper a month. Each roll of paper weighs 800 pounds and, if unrolled, would stretch from Red Wing to Goodhue.
Forklifts are used to move the mammoth rolls around the pressroom.
“It’s delicate,” Pevonka said. “If you drop it, you can damage a lot of paper.”
The presses can print two different sections at the same time, and the week begins with the printing of the publications’ extra sections and any store fliers that need to be made.
Scheduling when each newspaper will be printed can be tricky, Pevonka said.
“That’s the problem,” he said. “All our publications come out on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Timing is the key.”
“There’s very little wiggle room,” Johnson added.
Tour groups will get to see the two huge tanks that hold the black ink for the newspapers. Each can hold about 17,000 pounds of ink, and each gets refilled two times a year.
“The black is huge,” Johnson said.
Colored ink comes in smaller, movable totes. Each tote holds 380 gallons of ink. The pressroom goes through about 5,000 pounds of each color every year, Johnson said.
Tours will end in the mail room, where all of the Republican Eagles get their address labels and advertising inserts before being sent out in the mail. The machines there label about 180,000 publications a week, operating at 10,000 publications an hour.
What: Trick-or-treating and tours of the Republican Eagle
Where: 2760 S. Service Drive
When: 1:30-4:30 p.m. Oct. 31