Newspaper Production

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Newspaper Production


an aggregate of printing processes, whose scope and character are determined by the circulation, volume, and frequency of publication of the newspaper.

The characteristics of newspaper production, in contrast to other specialized printing processes, are an operational interdependence between the editors and the printing office employees, based on a strictly established hourly schedule, and the utilization of highly productive equipment to expedite the typesetting, preparation of engraving plates and matrices, casting of stereotype blocks, printing, and delivery of the newspaper.

Preceding the processes of newspaper production itself is the work of the editorial staff (the technical and production workers), who create a mock-up for imposition, laying out the manuscripts and the original illustrations and other elements of the design. The workers of the typesetting shop of the printing plant ensure that the newspaper will be typeset and composed (assembled) on schedule. Meanwhile, proof-readers check and correct typographical errors on the galley and page proofs, and late news stories, which have come into the editorial office during the course of work on the current issue, are added. The corrected and finally designed pages are then signed by the editor for delivery to the press. The pasteboard matrices are made (impressed) from these news-paper pages; stereotypes—forms used for printing newspapers on rotary press machines—are cast from the matrices.

The basic equipment of typesetting shops are semiautomatic line-casting typesetters on which 8,000 to 10,000 symbols can be set per hour. In present-day newspaper production there is an ever-greater use of automatic typesetting line-casting machines, which set a text from a perforated tape at a speed double that of semiautomatic machines. The standard page of newspaper format (60 x 42 cm) contains 35,000-40,000 symbols.

Plates of illustrations are made by etching a photographic image on zinc; this process uses reproduction cameras, copying machines, and machines to speed up the “single-process” etching. In advanced newspaper enterprises, automatic electronic engraving units allow plates to be made for the newspaper within a period of 25 to 30 minutes.

Matrices for newspaper pages are made on hydraulic presses that develop a total force of 4-7 meganewtons (400-700 tons-force). Stereotypes are then cast from these pasteboard matrices. On a modern automatic casting unit, two stereotypes can be cast per minute. Most newspapers are printed on high-speed rotary machines. The newest rotary newspaper machines, operating with a paper roll 168 cm wide and a printing cylinder rotating at 40,000 rpm, print more than 100,000 newspapers per hour. In large-scale newspaper production these machines represent productivity aggregates of more than 1 million copies per hour. These machines have automatic units for continuous transfer to a new paper roll, for extracting splices and wastepaper (spoilage) sheets, and for conveying the newspaper run to the shipping office. These shipping offices are equipped with assembly lines for counting, grouping, and packing newspapers into bundles.

Of great importance for ensuring the reliability of newspaper production and the effective use of the equipment, as well as for the exact reproduction of the tiny graphic elements of the text and illustrations, are the special materials utilized. These include triple typographical alloys (lead-tin-antimony), which possess the required casting properties, rapid crystallization and stability during matrixing under pressure, and matrix pasteboard that has highly plastic properties for reproducing all graphic elements and that is sufficiently heat-resistant for many castings of stereotypes (up to 30 metallic stereotypes from one matrix).

In present-day rotary machines the paper band passes through at speeds reaching 650 m per minute, giving rise to great tensional forces in the paper web. Therefore, newsprint with its relative thinness (50 g per sq m) must possess great resistance to tearing and high printing properties that ensure the reproduction of text and illustration on newspaper sheets. Newspaper printing ink must completely and instantly become fixed (“dry out”) on the paper as the sheets come out of the machine.

In order to guarantee on-time delivery of the central newspapers to readers in all regions of the USSR, a decentralized printing system was formed. Approximately 70 percent of the circulation of the central newspapers is printed in 40 cities throughout the country from matrices delivered by airplane. However, even modern, high-speed airplanes cannot ensure sufficiently rapid delivery of matrices to the country’s remote regions. Therefore, there is an ever-increasing reliance on transmitting newspaper pages to the country’s remote cities by electrical transmission of photographs. In 1971 there were 12 terminals for receiving newspaper pages by such means. In this method a copy of the newspaper page is placed in the transmitting unit, which is installed in the publishing house, and it is transmitted through communications channels by photoelectric impulses to the reception terminals, where receiving sets obtain photocopies of the newspaper on film. At these receiving points the images are transferred onto a metallic plate by a photozincographic method, and then stereotypes are made for printing the run. Under certain conditions the terminals may utilize the offset method of printing with a considerable reduction in the total time required to print a newspaper. A newspaper page can be transmitted this way in 2.5-3 minutes.

The adoption of electrical transmission of photographs for printing newspapers in oblast and republic centers has significantly speeded up the delivery of newspapers to the remote cities of the USSR and has guaranteed highly reliable delivery. The USSR has at its disposal the largest network in the world for such transmission of newspapers. The longest transmission lines in the USA, Japan, and Sweden range from 600 to 800 km, but in the USSR the longest is 8,000 km. The Soviet apparatus Gazeta 2 guarantee transmission over a distance of 10,000 km. Future plans call for an increase in the number of terminals to 50, with the use of artificial earth satellites.


Popov, V. V. Obshchii kurs poligrafii, 6th ed. Moscow, 1964.
Ponomarev, V. N. “Pechatno-kodiruiushchie ustroistva.” Mekhanizatsiia i avtomatizatsiia proizvodstva, 1965, no. 9.
Ponomarev, V. N. “Novoe avtomatizirovannoe nabornoe oborudovanie.” Ibid., 1966, no. 10.
Zdes’ pechataetsia “Pravda.” Moscow, 1967.
Chestnov, V. I. Gazetnaia stereotipiia. Moscow, 1968.
Semionov, A. A., and V. A. Kogan. Poligraficheskoe metal-lovedenie. Moscow, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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