After 138 years, Cedar Rapids Gazette moves newspaper printing to Des Moines

Tuesday marks the end of an era for the Cedar Rapids Gazette: the paper will go out of print locally for the first time in 138 years. Company executives say outsourcing the newspaper’s printing is essential in order to preserve its core business: providing independent media coverage in eastern Iowa.

Many have described the process of publishing a newspaper as “daily miracle”. Every day for 138 years, the Gazette’s printing staff made sure their paper miracle landed in mailboxes and on doorsteps across eastern Iowa.

Tuesday is the last day paper will come out of the massive 442-ton Goss Universal 70 printing press at Color Web Printing on Bowling Street in Cedar Rapids. From Wednesday, printing will switch to Gannet Publication in Des Moines.

Daniel Goldstein, CEO of Folience, the parent company that owns both the Gazette and Color Web, says the decision was precipitated by consolidation in the printing industry. Color Web recently lost contracts to print the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier and the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, which are also revamping their operations.

“There is great sadness. There’s also a pretty well expressed sense of relief,” Goldstein said of the sentiment among Color Web employees, saying some felt the decision was “inevitable.”

Goldstein says the closure comes as no surprise to factory workers, who can literally feel the erosion of the industry as they assemble the newspapers the company prints every day.

“They worked, many of them, night shifts for, as you said, decades. And it’s not the most glamorous job, but they’ve built a community, a family. And I think that’s why they have a lot of sadness.”

-Daniel Goldstein, CEO of Folience

“They feel every day the thickness of each of the papers, the number of inserts, the number of papers that pass,” Goldstein said. “And so they have a really, really good idea of ​​how their business is doing and they would physically suffer the decline of the print industry.”

Goldstein shared his admiration for the printing staff, some of whom have been on the job for 30 years or more, perfecting the science and art of operating the massive printing press.

“They worked, many of them, night shifts for, as you said, decades. And it’s not the most glamorous job, but they’ve built a community, a family. And I think that’s why they have a lot of sadness,” Goldstein said.

Goldstein says it’s a testimonial from the company employee ownership model that workers leave with their retirement accounts intact.

Color Web also served as emergency press room for Gazette staff following the August 10, 2020 derecho, which devastated Cedar Rapids, leaving the city in the dark for days.

With no electricity or internet, the press crew gathered at the print shop where a diesel-powered generator kept the press, computer servers and lights on. Although sometimes it was necessary to carry USB flash drives full of stories between the Iowa City newspaper office and the makeshift newsroom, they pulled out the paper.

Goldstein says the closure is “essential” in order to keep the Gazette sustainable for years to come, so it can continue its 138-year legacy of independent local news coverage.

“The dissemination of information, the free press, the information of the public, this is the role of the Gazette. And even if it is very sad to see the printing press go elsewhere, it allows us to continue with this company and this public service.

-Daniel Goldstein, CEO of Folience

“The dissemination of information, the free press, informing the public, that is the role of the Gazette,” Goldstein said. “And while it’s very sad to see the print go elsewhere, it allows us to continue with this business and this public service.”

The change will involve pushing reporters’ deadlines, which may impact coverage of sporting events or late-night government meetings, but the paper intends to expand its online presence in response.

Managing Editor Zack Kucharski assures subscribers and advertisers that they won’t see any disruptions as print operations transition to Des Moines.

“As printing moves to Des Moines, overnight trucking, combined with our local distribution team, will maintain current production standards for our print readers,” Kucharski said in a writing. declaration. “We remain as committed to serving the local community as ever and are planning changes that should increase content in certain areas of the newspaper.”

While the print page was the go-to medium in its day, Goldstein says consolidation will help the newspaper continue to adapt to the digital age, while maintaining its core operation: the newsroom.

“We are passionate about independently publishing news for eastern Iowa. It is the pinnacle of freedom, of democracy to have a free press,” he said. “Printing elsewhere allows us to continue this.”