Press OK

The sound and the smell are the first things that signal you are entering a printing press plant. It’s loud, and ink has an almost intoxicating but industrial aroma. Then you see the big machine and the humongous rolls of paper that go from plain white to sheets covered in text and photos and then folded when spit out the other side, a continuous stream of whirring activity.

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Our vice president, Tonja Johnson; assistant vice president, Gina Stafford, and I visited The Watkins Printing Company in Columbus, Ohio, for a press check. We watched the spring issue of the Alumnus come to life on paper and met the people who make it happen. Press checks help make sure the colors are correct when printed and everything runs smoothly.

We arrived at the plant at about 8 a.m., and the cover was already being printed. That took a few hours, and then the first signature (16 pages) was up next at about 10:30 a.m. At about 4:30 p.m., the second signature was on the press, and then at around midnight, the final one started. It is a continuous job from start to finish at a clip of about 20,000 copies per hour. We truly appreciate the people who work on the press 24-7. It certainly gives a different perspective to see months of work come out in teeny tiny dots on sheets of paper.

Above left: Arnie Schwed, press room manager looks over the last signature.

Bottom: a 52-page magazine printed 65,000 times takes a lot of (recycled) paper.

Above right: the cover runs through the press.