Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The collision at the heart of production

To say change is a constant in our business is a thumping cliche. Yet, like many cliches, it is true, and nowhere more than in the production department. 
From time to time I have guests attend the class I teach at Ryerson University (Magazine and Website Publishing) to give the students a perspective from people who are doing what we're talking about. Last night it was Kim Latreille, the national production director of St. Joseph Media and, after her visit, she posted an item on her blog about the experience -- and mostly about how difficult it is these days to explain what she does.
Gone are the days when that was a simple explanation. When faced with the question “What do you do?” at the top of the class, I had a difficult time answering.
What I do has morphed from what used to be a more simple, hands-on affair where the majority of my time was spent planning a single publishing schedule for each magazine, negotiating print contracts, booking in film for advertisements, maintaining deadlines and sorting out print budgets, to something I can’t explain in a way that has anyone comprehending how I spend my time or what I do exactly.
And they also glaze over.
Or drift into a lolling slumber.
Latreille says that print production has been digital since the early 1990s, so developing and working with it is "old hat". One of the biggest challenges is adapting to rapidly changing technology and bringing colleagues along.
The technology we use today resembles nothing we used 10 years ago or even 5 years ago. In fact, it is changing so rapidly, it’s hard to stay on top of it.
I find, as someone who sits in the middle of print and digital publishing, that due to my experience with print, it is up to folks like me to help our publishers sort out the mess that has become publishing, where two worlds are colliding that up to now have not spoken the same language.
If you want to learn more, Kim is to teach her 13-week evening course in Magazine Production at Ryerson University starting  Tuesday, May 1. It's on the menu of courses offered in the Magazine and Web Publishing program at the Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson.

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