Belated auction ends chapter of Dispatch's print innovation

Everything you need to get a newspaper out, from treadmills and snow-ploughs to world-renowned print technology is up for grabs in an auction next month.

The plant of the Columbus-Dispatch in Ohio is being offered in an online-only auction starting at 10 am ET on March 4.

First up is the four ten-unit TKS M72 newspaper presses, which were famously modified to print a six-section compact tabloid product, using Pressline's 3V "triple-cut-off" system.

It's barely eight years since the press system - which printed three cut-offs around the circumference of a conventional double-width press - was being hailed as the future of US newspaper production. Publishers used to increasingly narrow pages were offered the sectioning of broadsheet with the economy and ease of handling of tabloid. The project also used Nela lock-ups and plate automation, Harland Simon automation and later, QI press registration.

On the strength of the revamp, the privately-owned publisher won a contract to print a couple of Cincinnati and Kentucky newspapers for Gannett, plus editions of USA Today.

The beginning of the end came with the acquisition of the Columbus Dispatch by Gatehouse Media in 2015, followed by Gatehouse's $1.4 billion acquisition of Gannett late 2019. Printing was mostly moved to Louisville and Indianapolis - many with a return to broadsheet - and the Dispatch plant set to close last March with the loss of 188 jobs.

The auction also includes Heidelberg NP1280 and NP632 inserters, Schur pallet loading and shrink wrapping, and Krause prepress, plus a variety of plant equipment, vehicles and tractors.

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