From Hot Type to Data Type)

Dan Kaplan

As a case study on the impact of technology on employment, Publishing is excellent example of an industry that has suffered losses of jobs, successful retrain workers and seen the growth of new types of employment opportunities. I'll be referring mostly to the Newspaper industry due to the shortness of time in this discussion.

To start with, 5 years ago, my job didn't exist anywhere the newspaper business. We created it at S-T in '91 in order to manage telephone based reader services - hotlines and later personals. Again the job was created for me at Chicago Reader in '93. One of 1st in the alternative press to hire a full-time interactive services manger. I also handle our voice-mail and e-mail systems. The goal at the Reader has been to look at all interactive opportunities and develop both telephone and on-line products. This year we'll launch both.

Historical: The growth of new media ventures has provided some new jobs, but in no way does this make up from the manufacturing side. Let me give you a little historical perspective.

Printing is the oldest of industrial processes and the Printers Unions are the oldest national organizers in America (1700s) By very nature of the business, were the 1st craftsmen to be completely literate Adapting to technology is not new to the industry. Major changes in production at the turn the century. The International Typographical Union, largest has successfully controlled the introduction of new technologies for years. ITU took on the responsibility of training own men which helped it maintain power. Sad to see a loss of the historical apprentiships and jobs passed from father to son Unions treated intro of computers as another automation, not fundamental change in the way publishers saw their business.

Intro computers for typesetting (60's)also meant materials from outside syndicates NY pre-1960 had 1/5 of printing in US. Numerous strikes "killed" papers in '63. LATimes and Oklahoma City Times early adapters tech - didn't strong unions. Strikes in Toronto in the '60s, proved ineffective. Put out papers with fewer people. Strikes in NY in '70s led publishers to adopt automation at a faster pace outside of NY. Typesetting saved an estimated 40% of the production labor costs.

Nowhere but U.S. could changes of this magnitude take place without 1st discussing human questions. Finland unions and publishers passed contracts no one loose jobs to new equipment. Real power shifted from the printers to the journalists, because of direct input type of their own stories through VDTs. Between the 80's and 90's there was huge increase in the demand for print, but the system was more efficient so needed less jobs

This was happening even while circulation dropping. In 1930, 1.3 per HH, in 1980, .8 and it's slipped from there. Rising paper costs, a major recession in each decade that hurt advertisers. So, With profits down, publishers began downsized office staffs and other non-U employees, also afternoon papers virtually disappeared. In the 60's there was an increase in the number of newspapers and growth of chains. This foretold the international corporatization of the print media. To match size of media corps, there was a consolidation of Unions - '87 ITU/CWA

Sun-Times: I thought it would be interesting to see what was happening to the printers today at a local paper. I spoke with Ted Reilly, the VP of Labor Relations at the Sun-Times about current You may know that last year S-T was bought by Multi-national company - Hollinger, Conrad Black. In the 80's the production unions got "Jobs for Life", weeding out through attrition and retraining. They just signed a 10 year contract with the production unions after 4 years w/o one. By 1996, the paper will be fully Paginated, meaning there will be no more prod dept, the entire process up to the printing of the plate will be done through DTP. Production people are being retrained and offered other jobs within company. Won't be hiring any more union production, rather non-U Desk Top Publishers

The Future: By 1994, more than 200 daily papers had some type of interactive services, some were simply Talking Personals Nearly all the Alternative press has at least Personals, two have on-line, more coming. A peek on America Online showed a combination of 27 newspapers and mags on-line And I found references to 35 newspapers and 37 magazines on the World Wide Web The printed newspaper is quickly becoming a gateway to much information than can't fit in print as well as the regular features. For example, the Chicago Tribune's Trib Plus indicator in the paper. (AOL) Through the additions of interactivity, we shouldn't forget the writers' jobs are changing. More writers are hearing directly from readers and are "forced" to respond. Self-Publishing, through Desk Top Publishing since the mid-80's has spawned a tremendous growth in the diversity of voices in the publishing industry. The Internet has created a global audience for 'zines and other voices of the left and right, altogether bypassing the traditional means of distribution. Everyone can be a publisher with a computer, modem and Inet connection.

Maintained by Robin Burke <>
Last modified: Tue Mar 7 12:41:42 1995