Where would a newspaper be without its printing press?
The Williams Lake Tribune is fortunate enough to have a printing press right in its own building which prints newspapers throughout the central and northern Interior.
Pressmen Mark Lees and Calvin Paul have devoted most of their working lives to Black Press in Williams Lake.
Lees has worked at the Williams Lake Tribune since 1984 and Paul since 1986.
“I knew a couple of guys working here who suggested me because I was mechanical and that’s what I like, that it is mechanical,” said Lees of how he started and why he has stayed. “I worked with John Dolenuck for 20 years. He taught me a lot.”
For Paul it is the variety that has kept him on the job.
“Every day is a new adventure. Things can change at the drop of a hat.”
The press itself has 10 units in total, most for printing colour and two for black and white.
Between Monday and Wednesday the printing press is busy producing 15 different community newspapers from as far south as Ashcroft, west to Bella Coola and Haida Gwaii and Prince Rupert in the northwest for a total of about 50,000 copies.
As head pressman, Lees said the job has changed a lot since he started.
“We do more on computers now because it’s digitized. Gone are the negatives. In the past we spent a lot of time in the dark,” he added, noting technically they are classified as pressmen and lithographers. “We hung on to the end but change was good. It is easier on the system not to breathe those chemicals in.”
For the last 10 years the pressmen use a computer-to-plate process that sees the pages etched by lazers.
“It’s pretty cool,” Lees said.
The original press was located on the opposite side of the building from where it is today and only printed black and white.
Eight years ago an upgrade saw four GOSS community units installed, which increased the press’s ability to print up to 16 colour pages per section whereas before that the maximum was 12 colour pages.
Paper for the press comes from Alberta Newsprint in Whitecourt, AB and the ink from Sun Chemical in Richmond.
In addition to Lees and Paul, there are five people working in the mail room preparing the papers and flyers for delivery.