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Mass. newspaper taps Cerutti to anchor flexo production project

By Chuck Moozakis

The Daily Hampshire Gazette in Northampton, Mass., last month said it wants to upgrade its production facility and purchase a flexographic press from Italian vendor Cerutti Group.

The paper is buying an S4 press to anchor a 7,000-square-foot expansion, said Aaron Julien, publisher. The $10 million project should be completed late next year once it receives the green light from the Northampton Planning Board.

The Gazette (daily, 17,552 daily; Saturday, 19,391) is the first American newspaper to buy a press from Cerutti, which up to now concentrated on marketing commercial presses in the United States. It’s also the first paper to opt for flexographic printing since The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle ordered a flexo press in 1999.


Cerutti last year said it would reignite its international newspaper marketing following the sale of flexo presses to the Daily Mail and General Trust in London.

Major Italian newspapers La Repubblica, Corriere della Sera and La Stampa also use Cerutti presses.


Boost quality

Julien said the expansion project will allow the Gazette to greatly increase print and color capacity as well as attract commercial accounts. The double-wide press, configured as six units, can produce up to 48 pages of broadsheet and 96 pages of tabloid color.

The machine, rated at 80,000 copies per hour, will sport two upper formers, one for newspaper production and the other for quarterfold products, Julien said. It will be designed with a 48-inch web width and 21.5-inch cutoff, although the press could be reconfigured to a 46-inch web width with minimal engineering.

The new press will also enable the Gazette to print The Recorder in Greenfield, Mass., a 13,000-subscriber daily. Both are owned by Newspapers of New England, which acquired the Gazette last year.

NNE additionally owns the Concord (N.H.) Monitor and the Valley News in Lebanon, N.H., also produced on flexo presses.

Earlier, The Recorder had evaluated a single-wide flexo machine designed by Tech-Energy Co., but officials decided they needed a double-wide press to permit the production of both papers. Once the Cerutti press is commissioned, The Recorder will shutter its production facility.


Happy experience

Julien said NNE’s successful experience in running flexo presses contributed to the selection of the Cerutti machine. “We’ve been running flexo presses for 17 years and love the quality,” he said. “Readers also like the lack of ruboff and the consistency of the image is valued by customers and advertisers.”

In addition to the press, the Gazette is migrating to computer-to-plate using basysPrint platesetters and flexo plates from MacDermid. Julien said the paper also plans to upgrade its postproduction, but is still in the process of evaluating vendors.

The planning board will meet March 8 to review the project, which is being designed by ArcWest Architects Inc.