Another year ends at the Express

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blankA little shop talk. We are ending another year at the Express by changing the size of the paper, again. The only change you might notice is that the classified pages are different. As the paper gets narrower and narrower, the columns also get narrower which causes more and more hyphens and word breaks that make it harder to read. The solution for the classified pages was to go from a 10-column format to five columns. I’m hoping it solves the problem of hyphens, but it is a different look. The prices of the homes for sale, or the garage sale stuff, won’t change, just the width of the columns.

We don’t have a lot of say about the width of the paper; the printer tells us what size newsprint they are buying and we make the technical adjustments. For a little perspective, when I was a youngster, and we were printing the Winters Express on our own press, if you opened up the paper it was 33 inches wide. If you open our paper this week to the middle two pages, the new width is 20.5 inches. I’m not sure if we will see further reduction in the page size, but I don’t think they can go much narrower. I’ve been wrong before and only time will tell.

If you are curious, we haven’t printed the Express in Winters since 1972, the year we changed to offset printing and quit using lead type pressed onto a sheet of paper, which was called letter press. Our first offset printer was the Daily Democrat in Woodland. When I took over as publisher in 1983, I switched to the Vacaville Reporter to print the paper. When we merged with McNaughton Newspapers in 1994 we switched printers, again, to the Davis Enterprise. After they closed down the print shop in Davis a few years ago, we ventured down the freeway to the Fairfield Daily Republic.

We are not alone in finding printing companies to print our newspaper. The Woodland Democrat, the Vacaville Reporter and the Vallejo Times Herald are now printed in Chico, so Fairfield seems pretty close to us. It takes about the same amount of time to drive to the Daily Republic pressroom, just off the freeway, than it did to drive to downtown Davis. Fewer stoplights in Fairfield.

You will probably be seeing more changes to the Express in 2018 as a new publisher puts his personal touch on the paper. Over the years, the paper has changed, as has the City of Winters. I’ve watched as the paper went from being produced in lead type, to typewriter-style typesetters, to computers. We used to have darkrooms to develop film and produce printing plates. Darkrooms are long gone, and computers now make printing plates without the need for negatives.

They say we live in a digital age, but I still enjoy working with older printing equipment and lead type. I’ve always joked about my museum, and as the years have come and gone, and as we moved a few blocks away, I kept a lot of stuff that I hope people will like to see someday.

As I find ways to cut back my time at the Express, I’m seeing the museum as a place to house my junk and give me a place to go every day. It might even be open to the public someday. Time moves slowly at the Express, so don’t hold your breath about when you can book a tour, but I do have a plan. It might be the same plan I had 40 years ago, but it is a plan.

Enjoy the holidays and have a good week.

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