The printing presses that were banished from the bowels of traditional newspaper buildings throughout the Nineties could be set to make a comeback after the example of the Irish News.
The Belfast-based daily claims that the economics of printing have swung the other way, so that it now makes more sense to produce the paper in-house rather than go to a contract printer.
Editor Noel Doran said: “The price of presses has dropped so it’s pretty competitive now – at the end of the day it was the managing director’s call and he thought the best deal was to get a Man Roland printer in.
“It opens up a range of new options for us, such as bigger papers and much more use of colour. At the moment we do three editions, but we will be reviewing that because we will be able to.”
The £8m printing facility will be up and running from May 2005 at a purpose-built print hall less than a mile away from the Irish News offices.
Up until 2000, the 112-year-old paper had been printed on-site. The decision was made to change to contract printing that year when the paper changed from broadsheet to a European-style tabloid Berliner format.
A spokesman for the Irish News, which is owned by the Fitzpatrick family, said: “It is highly unusual for a paper to return to in-house printing after switching to contract arrangements, but the Irish News has bucked many industry trends and Mr Fitzpatrick insists that the future demands of the paper can only be met in this way.”
By Dominic Ponsford