Start the presses

new times union print quality comparison

On the left: a closeup of Tuesday's edition of the Times Union (printed on the new press). On the right: Sunday's edition (printed on the old press).

Tuesday's print version of the Times Union was the first edition from the newspaper's new printing press. The off-set press provides the TU with "dramatically improved print quality" and expanded capability for printing color.

The difference is easy to see (above). And much needed. The print quality from the paper's 44-year-old letterpress machine was... not good. Type wasn't sharp and the photo quality was bad.

That said, this is quite a move for Hearst, the Times Union's parent company. The new press reportedly cost $15 million. That's a lot of money to drop, whatever the time. But it's an even more significant expenditure considering the way the media business has been heading -- away from products printed on paper. The new machine allows the paper to be a commercial printer for other products -- even those of other companies -- so maybe this can be a way for the company to further diversify its revenue sources. [AP/WSJ]

The Times Union is by far the biggest player in this area, which makes it easy to throw rocks at it. Heck, we read it every day and certainly have some criticisms. That goes with being at the top. But no one else in a position to fill some of the roles it plays. And lately there's been some reason to wonder about whether it will be able to keep that up as it downsizes -- both its staff and the size of the actual paper. (This new version is physically smaller than the old, example post jump).

This isn't a unique condition -- it's happening to newspapers everywhere. But he Capital Region is better off with a vibrant media ecosystem, and for the near-to-medium term that probably means a well-staffed, capable Times Union.



I stopped reading the printed version of the Times Union years ago. It is interesting, though, to see the higher-quality print and photos the new press can put out. It's almost like seeing a newly-manufactured, sleek-and-shiny, rotary dial telephone.

The new paper has me intrigued. I love the physical paper, and prefer it to reading online.

My only problem is I can't just take the paper out at work to read a quick article, but I can hide a window of my browser behind a spreadsheet...

We only get the actual paper on Sundays (read it on-line during the week) and I had to chuckle at all their crowing (and the special section about their AMAZING NEW PRESS) smacked of "look at our new telegraph machine--it's the bee's knees!"

The investment in the press is almost certainly a separate bet from the investment in the paper itself. As time has gone on and more and more of the other local web presses have shut down, the Times Union and Gazette presses are going to be the only web presses left in the region. Because their own papers' schedules are paramount, that limits the availability to the other customers they print, so any remaining weeklies (and the other dailies that may rely on them) will be subject to their scheduling. That's a downside if you're a customer, but it's inevitable. Between scheduling and price, I wonder how many occasional web customers (like the local fairs, boat shows, etc.) will find a solution other than web, just because it's harder to get.

I think it is very cool that these guys are investing so much in paper printing equipment in this day and age. Following the directions in the special insert this past Sunday, I compared the "before and after" in the lead restaurant review's main photo and was duly impressed.

I love a physical paper and hope this will prove a sound decision. Here's a way to hedge your bets, TU: provide more quality editorial content so there's actually a reason to read the paper (physical or otherwise).

I've been reading my local newspaper since I was in elementary school (although it was only comics and sports at first). I have to admit, as the only 30 year-old or younger who still reads the physical newspaper every day, I thank the Times Union for upgrading for me. I'm sure I'll be reading the single copy still being printed in 40 years.

I'm not a fan of the tabloid size (they were really squeezing those letters to the editor narrowly) and I hate how low the masthead is, but the new photo essay section is pretty amazing.

Although the pages are smaller, supposedly there are more of them. I'm a daily reader here, and even though I'm a geek I prefer a paper newspaper. I like the new typeface, though not the broken up tidbits to catch my interest.

Part of the plan here is to gain the ability to rent themselves out as a commercial press. There are two lines for that specific reason: one is set up just to print Times Unions, and the other prints things for clients. Junk mail and magazines aren't the industry they once were, but someone still has to get paid to print things that you'll glance at and then throw away.

Printing their own ad inserts and the glossy magazines the TU produces will save money, and those Sunday ads are something that actually make money.

TU carriers already deliver the NYC papers--it's possible that they could also print the copies of the Times, Daily News, Post, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today that we receive locally.

(Yes, I used to work for the TU, but this is all publicly available information or my own inferences.)

The Syracuse Post-Standard upgraded to a similarly shiny press sometime in the last decade. It produces a beautiful paper...which is now only printed three days a week. That leaves plenty of time to print other regional papers, which they do.

How long would it take this press to print out a hard copy of the Internet?

Hi there. Comments have been closed for this item. Still have something to say? Contact us.

The Scoop

For a decade All Over Albany was a place for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. It was kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who could help you find out what's up. AOA stopped publishing at the end of 2018.

Recently on All Over Albany

Thank you!

When we started AOA a decade ago we had no idea what was going to happen. And it turned out better than we could have... (more)

Let's stay in touch

This all feels like the last day of camp or something. And we're going to miss you all so much. But we'd like to stay... (more)

A few things I think about this place

Working on AOA over the past decade has been a life-changing experience for me and it's shaped the way I think about so many things.... (more)

Albany tightened its rules for shoveling snowy sidewalks last winter -- so how'd that work out?

If winter ever gets its act together and drops more snow on us, there will be sidewalks to shovel. And shortly after that, Albany will... (more)

Tea with Jack McEneny

Last week we were fortunate enough to spend a few minutes with Jack McEneny -- former state Assemblyman, unofficial Albany historian, and genuinely nice guy.... (more)

Recent Comments

My three year old son absolutely loving riding the train around Huck Finn's (Hoffman's) Playland this summer.

Thank you!

...has 27 comments, most recently from Ashley

Let's stay in touch

...has 4 comments, most recently from mg

A look inside 2 Judson Street

...has 3 comments, most recently from Diane (Agans) Boyle

Everything changes: Alicia Lea

...has 2 comments, most recently from Chaz Boyark

A few things I think about this place

...has 13 comments, most recently from Katherine