A Newspaper Is Still a Newspaper Even If It Doesn't Own Its Own Printing PressSomervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas


A Newspaper Is Still a Newspaper Even If It Doesn't Own Its Own Printing Press

11 January 2009 at 11:48:13 AM

Saw this via Brains and Eggs, about how the Seattle-Intelligencer is going under, and the Beaumont (TX) paper is going to outsource its printing to the Houston Chron. Leaving the S-I out of this entirely, although there's a great SLOG entry about what happened here, the question is, is it anything new to use another printing press? And is it unusual, right now, for Beaumont to have its printing done elsewhere?

Some years ago, I briefly worked for the Santa Fe (TX) paper. Every week we would go down to the Galveston News building on the island and dummy up the paper. That entity had the printing presses, as well as machines to put in inserts, etc. I don't recall thinking anything was unusual about this but that, from a practical standpoint, made sense to pool resources.

Wrote this in 2007 about community newspapers that have one consolidated printing press location, including one for the Cleburne, Mineral Wells and Weatherford newspapers. At the time the Glen Rose Reporter newspaper was still locally owned-now it's owned by Macquarier out of Australia. And the Reporter is apparently outsourced to be printed up by someplace in Brownwood (maybe the Brownwood paper there, who knows?)  I don't think I object so much to the idea that resources are pooled when it comes to printing as I am that content is shared between pooled newspapers that doesn't really apply to the local news area (for example, when articles that deal with Stephenville local events are put into the Glen Rose newspaper with *special to* monikers.

A more curious trend is, to paraphrase or extend Dorrell's question, what do you call a newspaper if it quits printing in paper? And goes online? What, then, differentiates it against any other citizen's online presence, except perhaps in name and advertising revenue? I refer again here to Gatehouse Media, a company that looks to be transforming local papers into repositories of local content for the internet.

For me, I like the idea of a shift in how we think about how to get news and ideas, including not requiring that there be only one approved source for information. It's the same way I feel about an all-encompassing power grid. The printing press brought about a revolution in terms of information getting away from the hands of a powerful, privileged few who held the keys to information. But even then, the power of the press belonged to those who owned a printing press. That was STILL a way to keep power and hold on information. The internet has been the next shift in the way data is dispersed, and one might say that the power of the press (or of media, better said) belongs to those who can write news and views for the internet. At this point that still requires that communities be able to read and view items on the internet and in communities such as these, if one is still using dial-up, one is limited to what one can fully dip ones toe into. That will change. And when it does, the internet revolution will be alive and kicking in showing that a populist way of finding information, rather than from one approved source, is the rule.

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