WAN-IFRA: Why did the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung decide to outsource printing completely?
Gierth: Our core business as a publishing house is creating and providing relevant content to our readers. Not having our own printing house allows us to focus on this.
Furthermore, we have access to a variety of printing houses, which gives us the opportunity to present our advertisers with the best possible printing offer tailored to them in each case.
How did FAZ organise printing after this outsourcing decision? Do you have individual contracts with different printers?
We have a total of 12 printing locations, three of them in Germany, from which customers worldwide are supplied with our printed products. We have individual contracts with four offset and eight digital printers, each of which is designed for a multi-year partnership.
How do you make sure you get the print quality you need from your printing partners?
Maintaining the excellent quality of our products is very important to us. For this to succeed, constant exchange with our printing partners is crucial.
Our customers also have high quality requirements. In order to be able to meet these, we use different measuring and controlling elements that comply with the measuring instruments of our printing houses.
We therefore use the IFRA-Cuboid, the grey control strip as well as our personalised print control element, which can be found in every issue of our newspaper. Besides that, we use the Techkon ISO-PSO-Checker as an additional quality control instrument. We regularly exchange the results of our inspections with our partners as a part of continuous quality improvement.
Furthermore, we regularly participate in the biennial competition of the ICQC (International Color Quality Club) with the aim of improving the quality of reproduction. All those involved are thus motivated to perform at their best.
What are the benefits and the pitfalls when you separate the publishing and the printing business?
The advantage of clearly structured areas of responsibility is that each area can clearly concentrate on its core business, which is usually what it does best. Nevertheless, a regular exchange is indispensable for a regulated cooperation, because the communication is often longer from house to house than inhouse communication is. Beyond that, various inspection processes regarding the printing quality are necessary to fulfill the demands of our readers and advertisers.
What is the strategic importance of print for the FAZ group?
Frankfurter Allgemeine is synonymous with high-quality journalism across print and digital. We are moving with the times and responding to the needs of our readers and customers, which is why we are increasing our digital offering. However, we are also keeping our focus on the print offering, which continues to be well received by our readers and is a fundamental part of our corporate culture. So, in addition to the increasingly digital goals of achieving 300,000 digital subscriptions and a modern and future-oriented infrastructure, securing the print business is also a pillar of the FAZ strategy for the coming years.
Is it possible to pass on increasing materials costs to your customers (readers & advertisers)?
Through long-term and need-optimized supply contracts and efficient cooperation with service providers, we try to avoid passing on rising material costs to customers.
Unfortunately, the passing on of costs cannot be completely excluded in the current situation. We therefore also undertake ongoing cost optimizations and efficiency improvements that help us counteract rising material costs.
How do you see the printed newspaper in five years?
Print is still popular on the advertising market and readers also still like reading the printed newspaper, often in combination with the digital edition. We believe the digital business will continue to flourish in the coming years. Nevertheless, we see print as an important part of our core business, with which we still want to reach a large amount of our readers in five years and longer.
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