WORK ROLLS ON: Each press chews up the $1000 rolls at an alarming rate to make 35,000 copies of newspaper per hour.
WORK ROLLS ON: Each press chews up the $1000 rolls at an alarming rate to make 35,000 copies of newspaper per hour.

How is the Star made?

HAVE you heard the saying 'today's news is tomorrow's fish and chip wrappings?'

Well the saying, to some extent, applies with the Gatton Star as it too is printed on 100% recycled paper.

A recent tour of the APN Print facility in Toowoomba enlightened the staff of the Gatton Star with a behind the scenes look at just what goes into getting the weekly edition into 20,300 yards and letterboxes around the district.

Eighty tonnes of paper and two tonnes of ink per week run through the facility, so you can bet there is a fair amount of effort put into the paper.

Manager of the Toowoomba print site John Selman said the 40 staff work from 6am to around 3am each day to print not only the Gatton Star but publications for other regional centres including Ipswich, Toowoomba, Warwick, Roma, Kingaroy and Charleville as well as print runs for India and Korea.

Other publications of note include the Queensland Chinese Times and the Catholic Leader.

Gone are the days of lead set type print with the advent of computer and laser technology seeing data sent from each local news office, operating on strict deadlines, for transfer onto the site computer.

The Gatton Star has a 5pm Tuesday deadline for the print run to commence at 5.15pm so the paper can be read by breakfast on Wednesday.

The information is then transferred to four separate photo-sensitive aluminium sheets which can be loaded directly onto the printing press drums.

Each sheet of paper requires four aluminium sheets to take care of the colour transfer side of the printing with the base colours cyan, magenta, yellow and black enabling colour printing when mixed.

With the aluminium sheets loaded on the print drums, the $4 million press can start rolling at up to 35,000 copies per hour on a standard 48 page run which means the Gatton Star has two press runs as it is usually over 48 pages in length.

The final and possibly most labour intensive process puts the $1m inserting machine into action and sees the 1.2 million brochures and catalogues per week loaded into the paper before moving on to the wrapping stage where the newspaper is rolled into weather protective plastic cover, by hand, ready for delivery to the reader and answers the question on why newspapers are rolled in plastic and not folded?

The rolled newspaper is easier to throw and does not tend to 'frisbee' in different directions in windy weather.

Fascinating is the best way to describe the process behind something we all take for granted at times in the electronic age.

Mr Selman said the main press at Yandina was 10 times the size, yet is considered small in the big scheme of things.


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