The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) decided it was time to introduce a new measuring technique for its International Newspaper Colour Quality Club, and chose X-Rite to ensure an effective and accurate solution.

The decision was made as WAN-IFRA opened the 20th anniversary edition of its International Newspaper Colour Quality Club competition, the only worldwide printing quality competition for newspapers. Members of the club include the world’s best-published colour newspapers who maintain rigorous printing standards.

The goal of the International Newspaper Quality Club is to improve production quality of printed news, and increase competitiveness of newspapers as media. The competition has been held every two years since 1994. In 2012, 192 newspapers from 25 countries participated in this prestigious competition.

‘With the 2014 competition, we have introduced new state-of-the-art measuring technology to the Colour Quality Club judging process. This technology incorporates the latest industry standards and technical advances,’ said Manfred Werfel, Deputy CEO, Executive Director Competence Centre Newspaper Production and Special Projects, WAN-IFRA.

Werfel said that there are no fundamental changes to how the results of the International Newspaper Colour Quality Club are obtained and evaluated, but some evaluation processes have been revised to stay current with the latest standards. Among them was the introduction of the new measuring technique. ‘Because the colour measuring devices previously used had become dated, the decision was made to use a new measuring technique,’ he explains. ‘We chose two X-Rite Exact colour measuring devices for this purpose.’

X-Rite Exact™ portable handheld spectrophotometers can be used to quickly measure, understand and communicate colour and its status relative to standards. The Exact user interface, a colour touch screen, can be configured to display key functional elements in the order most likely to be needed by individual users, improving operator productivity, removing the opportunity for human error and resulting in increased colour accuracy. Its BestMatch function enables press operators to more easily keep ink colours on target even before colour shifts are visible to the human eye.

Mr Werfel said the X-Rite’s Exact™ solutions were chosen for a number of reasons. ‘These measuring devices are suitable for prepress and printing, online at the PC and offline,’ he said. ‘X-Rite Exact has a touch screen colour display for offline use and no measuring table is required. It supports the measuring conditions M0 to M3 as specified by ISO standards, and colour and density (Delta E) are measurable in a single pass. Wireless data transmission to a computer is also possible, and X-Rite’s cloud-based calibration via NetProfiler ensures inter-device agreement regardless of location.’

The Colour Quality Club also introduced changes to the application and evaluation process that include corrected target and tolerance values to achieve better agreement with the specifications of ISO 12647-3 for newsprint; amendments to dot gain, grey balance and general printing quality parameters; and a simpler colour conformity evaluation structure.

Exclusive club membership is available to all winners of the competition. Benefits include receipt of the prestigious award and promotion to give these outstanding publications an edge over competition for both readers and advertisers.

With Colour Quality Club results in hand, newspaper printers also have the ability to address customer complaints more confidently and increase quality awareness and know-how within their workforces.

The competition helps define goals for production personnel and identify optimised materials on the basis of detailed evaluations. Winners can also ensure their advertisers that they can expect consistency and identical appearance of ads across titles and issues.

Participation in the competition is open to all newspapers, independent of their production processes or the types of paper that are used. There are four categories within the competition:

• Cold set-offset printing on newsprint;
• Semi-commercial heatset or UV-cured offset printing on newsprint;
• Semi-commercial heatset or UV-cured offset printing on SC or LWC paper;
• Printing on tinted paper or for printing processes other than offset (e.g. flexo or inkjet).

Newspapers that successfully participate are awarded membership for a two-year period in the exclusive club of top-quality titles. Multiple winners and participants in the WAN-IFRA certification project also have the opportunity to be awarded membership in the Star Club for exceptional performance.