When I was in the primary school, I often went in various class trips to factories and other 'industrial objectives', as part of the communist curricula aiming to make us brave citizens of the country X. Although the pictures of the dictators X and X were everywhere, I - and probably most of my school mates - were getting a lot of fun out of those trips, with many presents and free samples - the icecream factory was a nice memory at the time, especially for me not allowed to eat more than icecream the month.
Due to my passion for writing and later on, for journalism, the visits at the printing houses were part of my practical education, even though I was never too much familiar with the technicalities of printing a page of newspaper or of a book. I remember for sure the hard smell of the printing and the traces of black everywhere: from the pavement to the walls, the clothes of the workers and my own clothes.
Later on, as a journalist myself and an editor, I often heard about the printing house and the care we need to treat the news we are writing, in order to avoid the waste of time and materials because some mistakes were made in previous editions needed to be corrected with the publication of new ones. But apparently this was a problem of country-in-never ending-process-of-development, as it was the case with the country X, as during my visit to Axel Springer Printing House, the German newspapers used to publish at least 5 editions.
Ironically enough, this visit took place years after I decided to give up the regular journalism and to focus rather on online writing activities. The guided visit, that can be booked for groups a couple of weeks in advance, was very pleasant and interesting, despite my full schedule and the very cold evening. For approximately one hour and a half, I not only watched a movie and discussed about how the newspapers are made nowadays - and apparently they will continue to be done for many years from now, even though the 2.0 optimists are still sceptical about the reason to continue cutting trees when you have everything only one button away. Being honest, I rarely buy media myself, and this happens especially when I need some reviews to read when on the road. Otherwise, 98% of the information I consume hungrily today is published online.
|First level: clean and ready to start the new round of work.|
|Unmanned machines are doing most part of the work at this level.|
|Pieces of paper left during the first printing was done.|
|The huge rolling papers will be soon turned into fresh newspapers.|
|Not too many workers around. At this stage of the production, they only need to push the right button and wait.|
|Everything should be at its right place.|
|The unmanned machine is doing the transportation work meticulously.|
|The huge machine hall from the next level.|
|The center of command.|
|The newspapers are almost done.|
|But before packing, a last checking of the details is necessary.|
|Good work for the moment, the rest will continue a bit later.|
This printing house is considered the second in Europe - the first one is located in the paradise of newspapers - not necessarily quality ones - which is the UK. A newspaper is printed every 31 seconds, with the help of 8 huge printing machines whose noise is so terrible that many of over 300 workers need to wear permanently ear plugs. Axel Springer, the famous anti-communist bastion - publish in this printing house 9 daily newspapers, 2 weeklies and 5 Sunday supplements and publications, as well as many of the advertising leaflets. Not all the publications belong to Axel Springer group. Other printing centres are situated in Essen and Hamburg. The printing activities started at the current location in 1993. The entire area smells ink but it is so clean that one can believe that accidentally arrived in a hospital. The details of the work protection are glued everywhere. A canteen, Paparazzi, looking similarly with the one from the other headquarters of Axel Springer - where the news are effectively made - offer to the workers a variety of good and affordable products. One needs to be well feed before preparing the daily cocktail of news, isn't it?