Once leading the world, now Oly presses are silent

Mar 13, 2024 at 09:48 am by admin

The story of the paper’s move to a plant owned by PE firm Alden had already been told… but that didn’t make the last LA Times run at Olympic any less emotive.

It was told this week by staff writer Thomas Curwen, and accompanied by moody images from photographer Genaro Molina.

The long shadows of late winter sunlight as workers gather for the final ‘swing shift’; shift supervisor Kal Hamalainen’s comment a they trade street clothes for work wear: “We’re trying to do this with a little class and dignity,” he says.

Curwen says the decision had been set in motion “many years earlier” when then owner, the Chicago-based Tribune Co sold its historic properties and the Los Angeles Times became a tenant. Six years after Patrick Soon-Shiong bought the paper in 2018, the lease on the Olympic plant up, and production has been moved to Alden’s Riverside (Southern California Newspaper Group) plant, making March 10 the last run at Olympic.

While the industry agonises for one of its greats, the Times’ circulation is unchanged, and president Chris Argentieri talks of transitioning to a new era: “technology and economics have changed dramatically,” he says.

There’s an understory and an irony to both points: The mighty Goss technology at Riverside – though recently upgraded – is of much the same vintage as that which will inevitably be scrapped at Olympic Facility.

Curwen writes that, “what once was so easy to take for granted has never seemed so remarkable.”

He sums it up as “a time capsule enshrining a 19th century product manufactured with 20th century technology and poised for 21st century obsolescence”.

Atlas Capital Group paid an estimated US$240 million (A$363 million) for the 26-acre site on Olympic Boulevard alongside the Santa Monica freeway, and its 1990 building, designed “to be a model for the world, not just Southern California”. The press and ancillary equipment – six lines capable of printing 70,000 96-page papers an hour – will of course be removed for its next role… but first, there’s more than 100,000 copies of the 22-page all-colour edition to print in less than two hours.

Read the LA Times report

Sections: Print business


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