Tag Archives: newspapers

Misreading Paper and Print

Sometimes in the rush of change people misread what they are seeing.  If there’s a mantra for the 21st Century it should be “take a closer look”.  While the floodgates of modern media have brought us an amazing array of information, images, and ideas, it has also brought with it an outrageous amount of mis-information.  Sound bites are less about news and more about noise.  The alarming absence of perspective both fascinating and frightening.

Paper is a good example.  A surprising number of people believe that not printing on paper saves trees.  While being a responsible user of natural resources is important, the reality is the paper and forest industry grow and harvest trees specifically for paper making.  These managed forests better serve the environment through carbon sequestration and cleansing of the water aquifer. Print creates a demand for paper, which in turn creates a demand for trees and managed forests, all the while holding development or other less environmentally friendly uses of land at bay.  It may seem counter-intutitve to you, but it’s true.

A surprising number of people believe the e-devices (smart phones, iPads, laptops, net books, etc) populating the modern world have little to no impact on the environment.  The fact that it’s against the law in 50 states and the District of Columbia to toss your cellphone in the trash ought to tell you something—lithium batteries are hazardous waste.  Unfettered access to the on-line world sucks up a huge amount of energy.  It requires bricks and mortar, air conditioning, electricity, computers and huge data centers operating 24/7/365.  The increasing use of fossil fuels including coal and petroleum to provide the electricity for data centers is growing 24% a year. “E” is not free.

While some take newspapers, magazines and book manufacturers to task for not quickly adopting new forms of content delivery such as e-readers, the argument that paper is used to create scarcity conveniently overlooks the fact that only 83% of US homes have computers, fewer still broadband access and that e-readers are largely out of financial reach of many families and especially children.  Paper, in the form of books, magazines, and newspapers are readily available free in public and school libraries, at reasonable prices on newsstands and if you’re not too fussy on seats in subways, bus stations and coffee shops.  Paper as a metaphor for scarcity or the means to slowing idea creation seems wildly outdated.  E-devices are here to stay, but that doesn’t mean paper or print must go.  If you love breathing fresh air and drinking clean water assuring a demand for print, paper and trees may be the best and most beneficial idea yet. It could likely turn out that print is the renewable way a responsible world communicates.

Tough Times. Courageous Choices for Leaders.

ChicagoJoining the list of media associations curtailing traditional face-to-face gatherings this year The American Society of Newspaper Editors announced it has canceled its 2009 convention originally scheduled for April 26-29 in Chicago.  Citing the difficult times faced by its members, ASNE’s leadership “concluded that the challenges editors face at their newspapers demand their full attention.”  With a nod to the electronic age which is giving newspapers so much trouble, ASNE will hold electronic votes on bylaw changes that would drop “paper” from its name and expand its membership to include editors of online-only news Web sites and leading journalism educators.  This is the second time since its founding that ASNE has foregone holding a convention. It also canceled its convention during the last critical days of World War II in 1945.  As ASNE President Charlotte Hall noted “This year’s circumstances are quite different than in 1945. This is a uniquely stressful period in our business as we face both structural change and deep recession.”  ASNE reported annual revenues of $1.02 million and assets of $613,045 in 2007.  Magazine Publishers of America called off its Annual Magazine conference scheduled for October in Boca Raton and reported they will replace it with an innovation focused event at a date and location to be announced.  “The cancellation of this year’s AMC is in response to the difficult economic climate facing all businesses, including the magazine industry,” MPA president Nina Link said in a statement.  “We recognize that this year our members are looking at a variety of ways to achieve savings, which would include curtailing certain discretionary travel and hotel expenses.”  Tough times.  Courageous choices.  Sensible outcomes, we hope.