Gutter journalism

LESSON 21: You gotta know how to fold them

With a penchant for running headings and images across facing pages, the sub-editors at the Nine Entertainment Co. mastheads The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald would always want to nail the process perfectly, wouldn’t you think?

Skilled production folk know how to handle these tasks well, aided by good software. It’s not rocket surgery so why does the end product look so botched so often. And who’s to blame?

In edition after edition (disclosure: The Bug has only the two weekend papers home-delivered in far-northern NSW) the whole process is often an unmitigated disaster as today’s Sun-Herald, hot of the press, shows at top.

The fold is well and truly out of whack, and it’s most noticeable when an image across the fold on the sports pages shows up so glaringly on an early news page on the same web, as last weekend’s SMH (pictured below, right).

Most editions arrive with a lip of about 1.5 centimetres so the papers aren’t coming of the press squared off in any shape or form.

While it’s been a long time since the washed-up journo hacks behind The Bug also completed their masters in newspaper web-printing machinery installation and maintenance we remember enough to know something’s not right.

So we really shouldn’t be blaming the journos then if the problem is down at the print shed? That’s probably true but shouldn’t journo production staff have as much pride in the finished product as their printing comrades.

If we assume they’ve raised these problems once they’ve got a folded main book in their hand, why haven’t they been fixed?

Or are the presses really that clapped out and beyond repair and could you blame Nine Entertainment Co. for not wanting to spend money on presses that may not be required for too much longer?