The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Our Community In Photos

February 11, 2012

That night silence came to the pressroom

Its frequency was seven times a week for at least an hour each time.

It has a roar that can be seldom duplicated elsewhere.

The decibel levels are so high you easily could go deaf within a short period of time unless you had special protection on your ears.

 Even though it is not a gentle sound of a flowing stream or rainfall, to the people who heard it every night it was white noise... soothing white noise. A sound of security, a sound of comfort. Even when you were not there to see and hear it in action it still provided security and comfort.

That noise stopped — probably forever — as our 10-unit Goss Urbanite offset press printed its final newspaper early Friday morning.  From today forward the Star Beacon is being printed at the nearby Tribune-Chronicle of Warren.

Today there are still a lot of weepy eyes around the Star Beacon. Sometimes we feel so endeared to machines that we mourn for them like they are people. Then again, machines are extension of us.

Our presses are believed to be the oldest daily newspaper presses in Ohio. The first offset presses in the state were installed at the Geauga Times-Leader in 1966 by the Rowley family, who owned that newspaper and the Star Beacon at the time. Once the presses became operational in Geauga, the family set about installing presses in Ashtabula. They became operational in 1969, and they are believed to be the second such presses installed in the state.

 Forty-three years is a long time... a very long life for a newspaper press. In that 43-year span, the world has dramatically changed. Nowhere has it changed more than in technology.  

 In the newspaper business the one thing that goes on unchanged is change. The newspaper business is all about change, not only from the standpoint that news is something different each day, but how news is produced for the reader.

My friend Sam claims the first newspapers were printed on rocks and passed around. There is some truth to that. It is believed that in ancient Rome the government would produce bulletins by carving them on stones or metal, and putting them in public places.

 In the seventh century, the Chinese produced news sheets that were handwritten on silk and read by government officials to the public.

 Real newspapers — meaning those on paper — began to take shape in the 16th century with the emergence of presses.

 Early presses produced one sheet at a time. They eventually gave rise to presses that could print multi-pages with the eventual emergence of what would be the labor and time intensive letterhead presses. They did produce a lot of newspapers though.

My career in the newspaper business started in the waning days of the hot-lead/letterhead presses. Actually, the first newspaper I worked for was printed on an offset press similar to the one at the Star Beacon.

My first newspaper was the Point Pleasant Register in Point Pleasant, W.Va. It was sometime in the 1970s, when my publisher prophesied to me the day will come when newspapers will be delivered electronically. This vision came before personal computers were popular.

Probably then most people thought that day would not come soon.  But time  moves and it can move rapidly.

The personal computer and Internet have created a revolution that is bringing about massive changes in our world that have not been seen since the Industrial Revolution. We are at the very beginning of this new revolution.

What we are witnessing in the news world is growing numbers of people receiving their news via the Internet. Newspapers are adjusting to that.

 Newspapers such as the Star Beacon with its aging presses have been faced with having to make business decisions on whether to replace these presses or print elsewhere.

The presses that went operational at the Star Beacon in 1969 perhaps cost a million dollars. Today an offset press could cost 20 to 30 times that amount.

 I have not heard of any newspapers installing new presses today. It makes almost no sense to do so  as readers begin shifting from newsprint to screen for their news.

For now it makes more sense to outsource printing at a place that has more modern presses, such as at the Tribune-Chronicle, than it does to continue to make costly repairs or install new presses. The Star Beacon signed a seven-year contract with the Tribune-Chronicle to print our newspaper.

 While time and technology have taken us from rocks to screens, the Star Beacon will be providing print news for many years to come. Too many people still like having their news on paper.

Frieder is editor of the Star Beacon and can be reached at

Text Only
Our Community In Photos
  • That night silence came to the pressroom

    Its frequency was seven times a week for at least an hour each time.

    February 11, 2012

  • One Against the World - Joshua Wade

    Joshua Wade, 17, of Colebrook, is both the 2011 Vex Robotics World Champion in the Programming Skills Challenge and The Robotics Skills Challenge. Wade is also the 2011 Vex Robotics U.S. National Champion.

    Joshua won the national champion title in March 2011 competing in Nebraska. He won the the world title April 14-16 in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World at Orlando, Fla.

    April 18, 2011

  • CTAG visits Camp Koinonia

    Students from Lakeside High and Lakeside Junior High attended a three-day activity to illustrate the importance of positive self-esteem, working together as a team and leadership. The program is part of the Closing the Achievement Gap initiative.

    February 16, 2011

  • May His Memory Be Eternal - U.S. Marine LCpl. Kevin M. Cornelius

    U.S. Marine LCpl. Kevin M. Cornelius was slain August 2010 while serving our nation in Afghanistan. Kevin was from Ashtabula, Ohio. The residents of Ashtabula County turned out in large numbers and flags to honor his sacrifice for our country.

    October 28, 2010

  • The MultiCultural Community Youth Choir

    The MultiCultural Community Youth Choir was started by Kimbery Thompson for a Black History Month program at Lakeside High School. The MCCYC has become a successful choir that performs at area churches and events. The choir is under the direction of Ms. Thompson. The choir is seeking performance artists of all styles to perform with the choir at various events throughout northeast Ohio. Contact Kimbery Thompson at 440-645-1436 for more information.

    October 28, 2010

  • The Healing Field of Honor

    400 American flags were placed in perfect rows at Greenlawn Memory Gardens Cemetery in North Kingsville, Ohio to honor all veterans and first responders. The dedication service was Saturday June 12, 2010.

    June 20, 2010

  • The 2010 High School Softball Season in Northeast Ohio

    The 2010 high school softball season featuring the Conneaut Spartans, Edgewood Warriors, Geneva Eagles, Grand Valley Mustangs, Jefferson Falcons, Madison Blue Streaks and Pymatuning Valley Lakers.

    June 3, 2010

  • The Bright Colors of Flora

    Random photographs of flowers taken by William A. West put to the music of Bernard H. Garfield. The piece is "Bassoon Quartet No. 1, Allegro con Spirito" from the Azica Records CD "Music of Bernard H. Garfield" released in April 2010. The featured musician is John Clouser, principal bassoonist for the world-renown Cleveland Orchestra. Accompanying Mr. Clouser are Ellen DePasquale, violin, Stanley Konopka, viola, and Richard Weiss, violincello.

    May 17, 2010

  • Pymatuning Valley May 6th Magical Million Proclamation Day

    The Pymatuning Valley Middle School and Primary School held a May 6th Magical Million Proclamation Day Assembly in the Middle School gymnasium to honor the 221 students who read 1,767,233 pages, PV Schools Superintendent Alex Geordan, Middle School Principal Andrew Kuthy and Primary School Principal Traci Hostetler made a bet that students would not reach the one million page goal. The administrators agreed to spend a day on the roof of a school if the well-read students reached their goal.

    May 14, 2010

  • After School Discovery and "Celebrate" presents Ms. Sally's Healthy Habit Calendar Journal class

    The After School Discovery Program and "Celebrate" now offers Ms. Sally's Healthy Habit Calendar Journal class at Lakeside Intermediate School in Ashtabula. Author / instructor Sally Bradley teaches the class.

    The class targets third to seventh grade students and promotes a positive self-image and healthy choices. Class activities build confidence, self-esteem and proper behavior patterns.

    The importance of healthy eating habits are explained to the students. The class instruction will enhance the reading and writing skills of the students.

    April 25, 2010

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