The newspaper of tomorrow will look more like a news magazine. Developments in production technology and business models will make it possible to print very high quality products, on any paper grade, efficiently and with lower energy consumption than today. Page-wide digital printing systems will be used in mailrooms to print current front pages or inserts. Press equipment suppliers will increasingly be expected to act as print and service partners to publishers. The future for the printed paper is about flexibility and quality.
These are some of the conclusions of the latest report “The Future of Newspaper Printing Technology”, the seventh to be published as part of IFRA’s three-year research initiative Where NEWS?, which looks at the future of media usage .The report, which was written by industry consultant Martin Lange, looks at where newspaper printing technology will be in 5, 10 and 15 years time. Its scope covers what it will be possible to achieve technically with regard to quality, formats and short print runs, as well as how future printing plants will be operated from a business point of view.
There are a number of trends discernible today, which will have come to full fruition looking fifteen years into the future. Production systems will become increasingly flexible to allow a variety of formats as well as printing on all paper grades. The current use of dryers to allow heatset print quality will become prevalent, with new drying technologies allowing this to be done in a more energy efficient way. In 15 years, system automation will enable unmanned production, and it will be possible to virtually produce a newspaper “at a press of a button”, making it economically viable to produce very short print runs for specific target groups.
“There are exciting times ahead for the printed newspaper,” says IFRA’s Research Director Manfred Werfel. “The report clearly shows that developments are already underway to allow printed newspapers to continue form a competitive part of the media mix. The combination of high quality print, shorter print runs with targeted content, and business models more suited to the need for production flexibility, will evolve to make the news magazine of tomorrow a desired product among media consumers.”
Directly linked to IFRA’s Where NEWS? initiative is the executive forum “The Future of News Publishing: Business Models – Strategies – Tactics”, 9 – 10 October, Rome (Italy).