WPF charts lessons from disruptive print technology

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Often disruptive technical developments which changed newspaper publishing are to be charted in a new report.

The lessons from history are part of a World Printers Forum project being led by Kasturi Balaji, a director of The Hindu publisher Kasturi & Sons, and WAN-Ifra deputy chief executive Manfred Werfel.

The project will focus on selected technical developments since 1970 "without aiming for completeness".

Topics that made the list include:

-The introduction of phototypesetting, replacing mechanical typesetting;

-The progression into electronic page make-up and full page output;

-Development of industry standards;

-Offset printing replacing letterpress;

-Introduction of four-high press towers;

-Innovations in printing substrates and other materials; and

-The transition from simple mailrooms to sophisticated finishing departments.

A core group of experts has been lined up with publication planned for March 2019.

"The project aims to present important business and technical milestones in newspaper history and look at what can be learned from often disruptive developments in the past to better master the future of newspaper publishing," says Werfel.

The project was one of several discussed when WPF members met at UPM in Helsinki last month (in March).

Others include printed and possible translated version of the OPHAL optimised paper handling guide and a review of the ISO newspaper printing standard. Suggested modifications to ISO 12647-3:2013 include restricting the tone value sum and introducing new levels for grey balance to CMY 10-8-8 (light grey), 30-22-22 (medium), and 50-42-42 (shadow grey).

A report on the implications of changing to lower grammage newsprint was published in February and the effectiveness and sustainability of printed newspapers are also being studied - the latter in a cooperation with Two Sides - as is the possibility of an award scheme for print advertising, product and business innovations. Expansion of a project on high-value print production will see eight print plants studied, with a report planned for October.

The group welcomed six new board members, three each from printers and suppliers. Among them are Max Garrido from Spanish newspaper printer

Corporation Bermont, Thomas Isaksen of Copenhagen-based DDPFF, and Sally Pirri, who heads print production at the Globe and Mail in Toronto, Canada. New on the supplier side are Agfa newspaper marketing manager Rainer Kirschke, manroland web technology and development vice president Manuel Kosok and Gideon Martz, who heads MakroSolutions in Germany.

A review by Manfred Werfel covered innovations in print advertising - including a chemical-sensitive coating which could confirm pregnancy - and statistics which support the continued popularity of the print medium. He quoted a November 2017 study which found that print was responsible for 18 per cent of all advertising-generated profit, the second highest proportion out of 11 advertising media (after TV), at an average ad-generated profit ROI over three years of £2.43 per pound spent. "This was found to be far ahead of online display, which delivered an average profit ROI of 84 pence over three years, contributing just one per cent of total ad-generated profit" (Jens Torpe, The Drum).

Next meeting of the WPF will be a general assembly on the last day of the Ifra Expo, October 11 in Berlin, with a board meeting at Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung the following day.

Pictured: Board members after their meeting in Helsinki

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