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Panpa Bulletin : August September 2007
news 22 PANPA Bulletin August-September 2007 New generation processes and equipment are up and running for a new generation of family operators at The Courier Tradition is an important feature of South Australia's Mount Barker newspaper, The Courier. It has been family-owned and operated since Charles Dumas published its first broadsheet edi- tion in 1880 and over half a century after Frank Teare Marston's acquisition, it is still in the same family's hands, spanning a fourth generation. However, that tradi- tion sits comfortably beside technological progress at the newspaper. It now boasts two new Tensor towers and a full Agfa computer-to-plate prepress system that is critical to the increased plate require- ments of the paper's growing full colour production. "I came here straight from school 33 years ago, as an apprentice graphic repro- ducer," says manager, Bruce Marston. "I think it's important that a newspaper is in private hands, especially if it's a hands-on private ownership. It makes a big difference having the owners involved in the every- day running of the business, which for the Marstons has been since 1952." The Courier delivers 15,000 copies weekly throughout the Adelaide Hills. It has been South Australia's 'best country newspaper' twenty times and achieved the Country Press Association's 'best newspaper in Australia' status for the third time in 2007. Bruce's father Norman (one of Frank's sons) is still general manager and his mother was a proofreader for around 30 years. Today, Bruce's wife is the proof reader and plate loader at the paper and their Year 12 son prints the paper after school and reproduces photographs alongside his dad and cousin once a week. Nephew Steve is the full-time production manager. Decisions about equipment upgrades and future directions require family discussions as well as research. Although initially reluctant, Bruce's father saw the benefit of expanding the print operations as demand grew, particularly for colour work. Upgrading the press was the first step, with a new Tensor T1400 four-high tower installed in 2006 to expand the Goss Community web press capacity and a simi- lar tower added in August this year. The Agfa CtP system was installed in April. It comprises an :Advantage XS violet platesetter with online VPP68 processor imaging :N91V photopolymer plates. It han- dles multiple resolutions (1000-2400 dpi) and includes the patented 3-point FleX reg- istration system (also found in Agfa's high- end :PolarisX devices). An :Arkitex RIPDrive workflow with the Pair/Imposition module for automatic page pairing and imposition adjustments drives the front end. The manual plate loading model was chosen because of its suitability to small- to-medium-sized operations. Because it does not use plate loading cassettes it easily handles multiple plate sizes or, as is the case at The Courier, mostly same-sized plates - around 70 plates are required each week with 95 per cent produced for the Goss press (plate size is 889mm x 586mm). "Having CtP is one of the big plusses for us," says Bruce. "With the new printing tow- ers, they all complement each other." Besides a 20-year association with Agfa, Bruce says the :Advantage XS guaranteed the ideal plate capacity and, because auto- loading was unnecessary, offered the best pricing. It also leaves open an easy upgrade path to chemistry-free processing in the future. The new equipment has enabled more colour production, something Steve Marsten says was not achievable with the analogue system (an Agfa :Avantra25E im- agesetter with online processor). "CtP has knocked off a couple of hours a night. Once the film was out it had to be exposed with UV light, then the plate proc- essed. Now it's all done in two-and-a-half minutes. It saves time making plates and you're not paying for film, so there are cost savings. It also produces a sharper dot so the print quality is much better." "Since we put in the CtP we can do more full colour work," he adds. "If we still had the old system, we would spend all night mak- ing plates. Now we just need one person to operate all of it. It's simple to use. Once the pages are ripped, [the :Arkitex system] puts them together. You just have to approve it. Anyone can use it." Both Steve and his production offsider Matthew attended two days of training at Agfa. Now the two apprentices and Bruce are being trained to help out if needed. According to Bruce, the plate making proc- ess is now so quick, staff recently experi- enced one of their earliest nights ever. "We even stopped for a while, we were that far ahead of the collating team." The Courier staying on top down south with Agfa CtP The Mar s ton b oys have kept Th e Courier in the family since 1952 The Marston boys have kept The Courier in the family since 1952 "It makes a di erence in having the owners involved in the running of the business, which for the Marstons has been since 1952. "