Wednesday, August 15, 2012 12:00 AM

New printer for the DP

After nine-and-a-half years of being printed by The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, the DP is being printed at a new printing facility this fall.

The DP's Board of Directors made the decision this summer to award the paper's printing business to Delaware Printing Company in Dover, DE. The decision, notes DP General Manager Eric Jacobs, was largely financially motivated, with some improvement on the print quality as well.

"As alumni who have been following our reports on the DP's financial difficulties over the past several years are already aware, we continue to face an acute need to reduce our costs wherever possible without decimating the fabric of the DP operation," Jacobs said. "Delaware Printing offered us an opportunity to slice more than $30,000 per year from our operating costs, and that proved too enticing an offer to pass up."

Jacobs said that the added distance between the PD and the Dover printing plant -- a 90-minute drive -- initially seemed too great to be feasible. But through several months of discussions, it became apparent that with only a small shift in the DP's internal deadline, the printer could fit in the print job and continue to get the paper to campus by 6 a.m. The DP editors now need to complete their pages by 1:30 a.m., a half hour earlier than the previous 2 a.m. press deadline.

The new printer uses a slightly thicker weight of newsprint, and a different method of screening photos, which results in a product DP staff members are finding to be an upgrade in quality. The only physical difference in the paper is that it is now one inch shorter, with an image area of 20" tall after more than four decades at 21" tall. "The DP, along with all newspapers, have gotten narrower over the past decade," Jacobs said, "but losing an inch in height now is virtually unnoticeable unless you lay it side-by-side with an older paper."

The change took a lot of work behind the scenes in the months leading up to the start of the fall semester, but most readers will likely be unaware that the DP has changed, Jacobs said, "unless they notice the subtly nicer feel of the paper and the sharper look of our photos and color ads." 

"It's a huge win for the DP to be able to achieve such a large cost savings with no adverse impact on either our readers or our staff," Jacobs said. "We've made many painful cuts in reducing the DP's budget by more than a third over the past three years, but this offered a great gain with no pain -- aside from the work to bring about the transition."

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