technician printing

Newly printed copies of Technician on the printing press at Triangle Web Printing on Aug. 25, 2021. 

Although many readers of Technician access the newspaper online, some may be interested to know that Technician also distributes physical copies every Thursday to newsstands around campus. Last year, due to COVID-19, Technician newspapers were issued online once students were sent home. However, physical printed copies of Technician are back.

When asked how much the printing and distributing process at Technician has changed throughout the years, Student Media Director Patrick Neal mentioned the change in frequency of Technician’s printing schedule.

“Up until relatively recently, Technician came out five days a week,” Neal said. “They were Monday through Friday when I got here. I’ve been here almost ten years. Up until the start of the 2014-2015 academic year, they were five days a week.”

In 2014, Student Media cut back to four days a week, Monday through Thursday. Two years later, print occurred a mere two days a week, switching from a broadsheet layout to a tab.

Tim Peeler, who works in strategic communications initiatives for University Relations, said that in the 1920s through the 1960s, Technician used its own print shop.

“For its first half-century, Technician was an unanchored yet important part of NC State’s campus, bouncing from place to place every couple of years, dragging with it a few reconditioned typewriters, some exacto knives and the burrs it placed under the saddles of just about everyone on campus,” Peeler wrote in an article. “… At 27 years and counting, 323 Witherspoon Student Center, as it is now known, is the newspaper’s longest-serving home.” 

Technician recently celebrated its 100-year anniversary, which Neal described as extremely successful.

“In February of 2020, Technician celebrated its 100th anniversary, and that was a huge, major event,” Neal said. “It was a committee of alumni who work here at State, and staff here. You have probably seen the 100 years of Technician book out on the stands. … It was certainly a highlight of my career.”

Reflecting on the paper’s history, Neal said producing a newspaper today is a lot easier than it was, considering the many advancements in technology. Today, when a newspaper goes to print, it is uploaded to a folder where its printer, Triangle Web Printing, will have access to it. Technician started using Triangle Web Printing during Volume 97. 

“Triangle Web, they are a wonderful, wonderful partner to us,” Neal said. “I’ve worked with a lot of press people over the years before we switched over to Al [Thorn] some years ago. As far as I’m concerned, he and his people are the gold standard for this type of work. Just a pleasure to work with.”

Each paper undergoes refinement, which is when images and graphics are retouched or lightened. Then, the staff make virtual proofs or copies of the paper to send to the plate room, which is where the newspaper is physically printed.

“Any color you see in Technician is made up of just four inks — there is cyan, which is blue, there is magenta, which is kind of a pink, yellow, which is yellow and black, which is black,” Neal said. “It's just different combinations of those colors. You can take those four inks and if you get the percentages right you can come up with, in theory, any color you want.” 

At Triangle Web, they use a cold set web press and try to use recycled paper as well as soy- based ink. In total, the printing process takes about an hour. The papers are then bundled into groups of 50 and then driven to campus where they are distributed to Talley Student Union, dining halls, residence halls, the libraries and other campus locations.

“Most of the papers on campus are on stands by 6 a.m.,” Neal said. “The ones for commercial businesses are generally out by 7 a.m., and then we have a last handful of stops that are mostly around Witherspoon.”

More information about Technician can be found by picking up one of the printed copies around campus or by visiting Technician’s website. Additional information about the printing process can be found at Triangle Web Printing’s website