2008/09 Peter Coleman's NewsWrapper for September

Oct 05, 2008 at 10:12 pm by Staff

PANPA’s annual conference earlier this month was dynamic, pragmatic, inspirational ... and amazing. Pragmatic in its theme, focussed on winning the next publishing battle. That it happened at all – given the only-recent ‘change of guard’ with the appointment of Mark Hollands as chief executive in May – is cause for wonder in itself, and a credit to him, his small team and the industry expert panels. It was also disappointingly poorly attended. PANPA ‘virgins’ are usually pretty impressed with what they find at the event, and this year was no exception. Even a politician by the name of Kevin Rudd found it sufficiently worthwhile to come back a second time. But where were the people it had been organised for? Yes, we know times are tough ... but dealing with that was emphatically the conference’s theme; yes, we know it’s hard to be seen to send people off for a ‘jolly’ while cutting costs and staff. That’s the typical kneejerk reaction, of course. The same one that cuts the advertising budget when it should be boosted to build business through a decline. I’d challenge anyone who attended the three days of workshops, keynotes and sessions to deny that they came away with ideas worth much more than the cost of attendance. Now it’s time to share that message ... and make a note to be in Sydney for PANPA09 next August. There’s radical change afoot in the Solomon Islands, where the daily ‘Solomon Star’ is upgrading from sheetfed production to a refurbished two-unit Goss Community with a UOP colour satellite, being installed by NZ-based Webco. Sounds simple? It’s not, as delays over power supplies in Honiara have led to a decision to install inhouse generators as well. Group operations manager and acting editor Peter Lomas says the company is also planning to switch to CTP early in the New Year, using Technova’s Metijet when it is launched outside India. Lomas promises “an interesting tale” from the still growing newspaper world of the Pacific Islands, as the project proceeds. Newly-recruited to a role helping Océ spruik its digital printing systems to newspaper publishers, graphic arts commentator Andy McCourt drew on his collection of print ephemera to provide a ‘prop’ for visiting specialist Michaela Frisch to use in her PANPA conference address. A 1929 copy of the ‘Australasian’, resplendent in lithographic colour from its production on a German offset press, was an apt talking point. Perhaps someone can tell us its history. Pioneering stuff ... and Frisch (pictured) would like Australian newspaper publishers to continue to partner German makers in their pioneering efforts. She thought the production of editions of the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ on digital equipment from her Poing, Germany, company an encouraging start. On his website, Charlie Scandrett – who has just taken the Web Leader agency for Australia and New Zealand through his Pressnet business – tells the story of the ‘three bananas’ ... all printers with elderly equipment. The purpose is to illustrate the advantages of buying the latest productivity benefits, even if it means buying a less well-known brand to keep the total cost down. Of course the first banana – who buys neither – is the first to ‘split’ and goes bust. Even though the participants are sheetfed printers, the example fits into the context of the cost modelling included in one of the PANPA workshops, and is supported by an Excel spreadsheet. Local investment in productive plant has been steady in recent years and is one of the reasons why Australia is weathering pressure from other media better than some other countries. It’ll be interesting to see whether Scandrett can succeed here with Web Press – which has a range of single-width newspaper equipment including a compact four-colour tower – where other agents have failed. Certainly, the kit has been popular in other markets including the UK and USA. Quick turnaround: The impending book I mentioned last issue about newspaper trains is now in print. Rod Kirkpatrick reports that the Australian Newspaper History Group’s ninth book, ‘How We Got the News: Newspaper Distribution in Australia and New Zealand’ from historian Victor Isaacs is now available. It covers systems completely different from today’s methods including the trains which left NSW and Victorian capitals each day, special trains and buses from major New Zealand cities, and the newspaper which ran its own airline. More details from Rod Kirkpatrick, phone (07) 4955 7838. Oh, and on the subject of books, can I dissociate myself from the Peter Costello ‘memoirs’? For that matter, I probably had the name before the Peter Coleman who helped him write it.
Sections: Columns & opinion


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