In another sign of the changing newspaper industry, and the Antigo Daily Journal’s evolving role, in-house printing of the daily newspaper will shift to Eau Claire beginning next week.
The shift will end a 115-year history of production at the Journal’s various Antigo facilities. It was caused in part by circumstances—with the departure of the newspaper’s veteran pressman and serious breakdown issues with a piece of ancillary equipment needed to produce the plates used on the Goss Community press.
It also comes as more and more newspapers of all sizes switch to specialized off-site printing facilities.
“More and more newspapers use centralized printing locations, such as Eau Claire, Janesville and Madison,” Journal Editor Lisa Haefs said. “While this is a rather sudden turn of events, it will bring long-term benefits to our advertisers and subscribers in terms of quality and color reproduction.”
The only thing subscribers will notice with the switch, which will take place on Wednesday, will be the physical dimensions of the newspaper, which will be slightly smaller due to the press requirements at the Eau Claire plant, with narrower column widths. Actual news and advertising content will not be affected.
“The Journal will continue to be delivered to subscriber mailboxes the morning it is printed, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays,” Haefs stressed. “Daily updates, and an electronic newsletter, are available to subscribers on the Journal’s website antigojournal.com, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.”
Unlike today, presses were a key and proud component of newspapers for decades.
In a detailed history of The Antigo Daily Journal published for its centennial in 2005, owner and editor Fred Berner reviewed the history of the presses.
“Over the century -plus the Berners have operated a newspaper in the city of Antigo they have used basically four newspaper presses,” Berner wrote.
The first press was a cylinder unit on which two pages could be printed at about 1,000 copies an hour. This press served for several years in weekly publication but after five years for daily publication the brothers bought a Goss Comet.
The Comet was a flat bed perfecting press that was able to print about 3,600 eight page papers an hour. The brothers bought the unit in 1911 with the intention of using it for many years.
Community and area growth called for a bigger paper and an increased circulation called for a faster press so in 1927 a Goss Straightline rotary press was purchased and installed in the plant. The press was able to print 16 pages at the rate of 20,000 an hour.
The press was installed on a reinforced concrete base which extends up through the basement. The base also forms the pit where the 30 horsepower motor was mounted.
The first issue of the paper that was printed on the press, July 6, 1927, stated that it took a company of professional press erectors two weeks to unpack the press and assemble it and another two weeks to get it running. The date stamped on the press, which appears to be the date of manufacture, is 1923.
The Linotypes, Goss press and everything that went with it served the newspaper and the Antigo community well for decades and decades. But times do change, and Antigo started feeling those changes in the early 1970s with the arrival of the Copps Corporation, a Stevens Point-based firm that was opening a general merchandise department store and market here.
Their advertisements — which were essential to the Antigo Daily Journal — no longer would come in the lead-friendly form and other chains doing business in Antigo had done. They were done in what was called “cold type,” or in other words, the ads came looking a lot like a picture.
Recognizing this, as the Copps building was being constructed on Antigo’s north side, the Berner family launched a campaign to modernize and purchased for the Wojtasiak property at 612-614 Superior St.
The components for a modern offset printing plant, using the cold type technology, was packed into the building and within a week or two of the opening of the Copps facility in the late spring of 1972, the presses were rolling inside the 612 Superior St. location.
That is, until next week, when that Goss will be silenced in favor of the modern equipment at the Eau Claire Printing Company.