Just like the news that never sleeps, neither does The New York Times printing plant in Flushing.
The plant, which has 700 employees, opened in Queens in 1997 and is now the only one in the New York City area, after plants in Manhattan and New Jersey.
“This is the newest facility and it’s centrally located for our product,” explained Nick D’Andrea, the executive director and plant manager.
The daily and Sunday editions of The New York Times for the New York metropolitan area are printed at the Flushing plant. D’Andrea, who started with the Times in 1975 in the mailroom, said that their area includes Connecticut, as far north as Albany in New York, and as far south as Philadelphia for the daily paper.
For the Sunday edition, they handle the east coast down to Florida.
During the day, the plant prints the advance sections of the Sunday edition, which they start 10 days before the issue date. Along with doing limited press production during the daytime hours, workers do maintenance and calibrations on the machines, and make sure everything is ready for the nighttime.
“It’s so critical that they’re [the machinery] ready to go at night when the daily starts,” D’Andrea said.
Around 4 p.m., D’Andrea said the plant typically starts to receive the digital files for the early sections of the daily paper, such as home and gardens section, and printing starts around 6 p.m.
“At 11:30 at night, we’ll print the hard news, the main section, the business, the sports, so that we get the latest possible close on our editions,” he said.
Nights are when the busiest operations at the plant take place. D’Andrea said that it is at that time they run more equipment. He also said that, since they are on deadline, it can get pretty hectic, particularly when there are big news events and pages are being transmitted later.
“You can feel the activity start to buzz as we get closer to edition time,” D’Andrea said.
Once the plant receives the digital files from the Manhattan headquarters of The New York Times, they process aluminum printing plates. The plates are then transferred out to the press room where they are mounted and printed. The plant also handles inserts and shipping.
Each week, about 14 million copies are printed at the Flushing plant, although that can vary depending on the number of sections and circulation.
One challenge that D’Andrea said the plant has is that, because of it being a newspaper, there are late closes and circulation demands to deal with. He also said that the window to do the printing gets tighter as newsrooms want a later closing while customers want earlier delivery.
However, because of the size of the plant, which is 550,000-square-feet, he said another challenge is just making sure that the building and production equipment is in “fine working order.”
Although D’Andrea usually works during the day, he said that he does change is schedule at times for things such as an important production night.
“Just like the plant is 24/7, my role is also,” he said.
In honor of The Queens Courier’s 24 years of serving you, our readers, and the communites you live in, we bring you a look at 24-hour Queens. We shadowed some of the people who work in and watch over the borough through the night, and, in addition, we have listed the places that you can go before the sun comes up if you need gas, feel like bowling, or get the munchies.
Read our other 24-Hour Queens Features by clicking below: