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New Print Campaign Is Fatally Flawed -- McIlroy

April 2002
GENTLE READER: I can only say that if you're getting sick and tired of my naysaying of the printing industry, think about how I feel. I look back on my Printing Impressions columns over the last few years, and I realize that you could easily get the idea that there's nothing I'd like better than to see the printing industry disappear. I keep harping about the industry's failure to get with the program: to recognize the changes that are taking place in the way that media is proffered in our society.

I keep harping about the economic challenges that the printing industry faces and, I know, I do it in a way that suggests I hold out little hope.

I've been putting off writing this column for a couple of weeks now, and not for the usual reasons of laziness and distraction. I've been putting it off because I've got another harangue in the works here that I know a lot of people are going to read as excessively negative.

How can I prove it to you? I love print. I was raised on it. My father was a published author. The first job I remember him holding was as a PR rep for Encyclopedia Britannica. I remember vividly the day when his second novel was published, and his 10 author's copies showed up at our home. The excitement we shared was all about print.

I started in the ink-on-paper business as a bookseller. I worked for a decade as a book publisher. I've authored or co-authored more than a dozen books—all of them issued with ink on paper. I've been consulting to printers and the graphic arts industry for 15 years.

But, let me state it bluntly: I feel embarrassed shame at the PIA/GATF's new campaign: "Print: The Original Information Technology." I'll avoid rhetoric and explain my reasons carefully.

First, please turn your Web browsers to this address: http://www.gain.org/servlet/gateway/printIT/speech.html and read carefully the remarks from Ray Roper, PIA president and CEO, introducing the new campaign.

I can't claim to be a close friend of Ray Roper's, but we've met on more than one occasion, and I can state unequivocally that I have the greatest respect for his intelligence and commitment to the printing industry. During his tenure at PIA, he's worked hard for all of us. What follows is not an attack on Roper or his colleagues. Rather, it's a disagreement about strategy.
 

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