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DeWese--No News Is Good News

April 1999
The printing industry never gets any publicity in the national media. Television, magazines and newspapers ignore us. It's as if commercial printing didn't exist. The graphic arts industry gets no attention or respect.

If I'm not mistaken, we are something like the third largest employer and the seventh or eighth largest industry in terms of the dollar value of our production. I think I'm about right. You can look it up.

The technology sector gets tremendous coverage on television and in newspapers. Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Sun MicroSystems and all those Internet companies get lots of press. Cocktail party conversations abound with tales of fortunes made and lost on Internet stocks and the trends among chipmakers and PC manufacturers.

The pharmaceutical industry has no trouble getting media attention. Some chemist invents Viagra, and we are awash in jokes. Some lawyer does anything, and it spawns a dozen new lawyer jokes. Geraldo Rivera, Larry King and other talkshow hosts feature entire panels of lawyers daily. I've never seen a printer on any of those panels.

There are no good printing industry jokes. I have never once heard David Letterman or Jay Leno begin a monologue with, "Didya hear about the lithographer in Little Rock who was caught with his prices down?"

Printers never get investigated for anything. We can't afford interns, so there's no danger of any hanky-panky in the company president's office. The only strippers we know are 60 years old, named Gus and wear overalls.

We don't have the money to invest in exotic resorts like Whitewater. Unlike NFL or NBA players, nobody in the printing industry makes enough money to traffic in cocaine or total a Ferrari at 3 a.m.

Even our unions never strike.

The printing industry has plenty of rumors, but nobody outside of the industry wants to hear them. Can you imagine calling your local newspaper's city desk to pass on the rumor about Supercolorgraphics laying off 14 people because they have no work? The reporter would laugh you off the phone.

I think the printing industry has an identity crisis. We get no recognition. We get no respect.

No wonder it's so difficult for our salespeople to get appointments. We've got nothing to talk about. No good rumors to pass on. No scandals to discuss.

I briefly considered fomenting a scandal. You know...something Geraldo could really sink his teeth into. Maybe something involving a clandestine deal between the paper suppliers to raise prices. Better yet, a sneaky deal involving the paper companies, a price conspiracy and a bevy of Las Vegas showgirls. And, maybe I could throw some Ferraris and cocaine into the story. But, then I figured the lawyers would get involved, and I'd get sued.
 

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