A visit to the pressroom

After four and a half years at the Los Angeles Times, I finally made the trek to the other side of downtown Friday to tour the paper’s Olympic printing facility. As part of the effort to merge the web and print staffs, the Times has been giving some of the websters a “Newspaper 101” crash course. I tagged along for the tour, but my low-res BlackBerry photos just don’t do justice to the size and scope of the place.

Anecdote: The machines that were bought to insert preprints (like the ones flying off the presses in the photo) ended up being too error-prone, so the distributors still have to stuff them into the paper by hand. Let’s see:

Umpteen preprints x 1.1 million Sunday papers = a lot of hands

I’m reminded of why newspapers are still largely a manufacturing and distribution business. And why this business model is falling apart.

(For robotics geeks: Here’s Dakotta’s video of one of the robots moving a roll of paper. They follow electromagnetic guides embedded in the floor.)