With a Capital C
They heard what people were saying, that digital technology was expensive, awkward and faulty. But they proved the rumors wrong. Instead, acting as a beta test site for CadmusMack (www.cadmusmack.com) in 1996, Central PA magazine (www.centralpa.org) went digital, computer-to-plate (CTP), proofless and has been using a PDF workflow for more than a year. With a circulation of approximately 40,000, this regional magazine turned into the publication that could, making CTP a success in an industry that has often claimed "size matters." The undertaking is noteworthy, since the magazine's wealth of advertising ranges from "mom-and-pop" shops to statewide and national brand names interested in courting loyal WITF public television and radio supporters to whom it's exclusively mailed.
But to understand Central PA's workflow is to first appreciate its demographic. Formally known as Apprise, today's Central PA is housed in the Middle Atlantic state's capitol of Harrisburg, a town that boasts an urban beat, but is bordered on all sides by small towns, farm lands and convenient routes to nearby cities Philadelphia, New York and Washington. It's a heterogeneous climate that caters to a diverse readership lauding "phantom" restaurant reviews and insights into local color. For the magazine, fusing old-fashioned features with the latest publishing technology contributes to a progressive year behind the scenes.
The inner sanctum
From her desk, Julie Fasano, the magazine's production manager, is busy with the next issue of Central PA. Both her dexterity and humor are apparent during a hectic day—the norm ever since she and CadmusMack rewrote the prescription for production.
"The big step that has been eliminated is the blueline," says Fasano. "In 1996, when we began these discussions, the belief was that if things went CTP, there would be no film, and therefore no blueline. We eliminated the blueline process in July 1997 and saved about four days in the schedule." Since then, soft proofing and other forms of digital proofs have become more popular industry-wide, though Fasano has further scaled down by using only laser proofs bound for Cadmus. She says as a result, "We have been able to extend ad close deadlines. There is no more page assembly at the printer; we send complete files."