A friend of mine told me my headline from Monday, "Why it was great to edit print publications," was a snoozer, seemingly meant to convince readers I'm 72.
Well hell, man, these 20 years I've been in the working world have been a pretty big 20 years in the communication business, and looking back over those two decades sometimes makes a body feel like he's 72.
In the early 1990s, one of the most popular seminar leaders was a graphic designer named Edmund Arnold. Ed was known as "the father of modern newspaper design," and claimed to have designed more than a thousand newspapers as a consultant.
He was a charming man and a fine teacher who believed, and taught until his dying day, that ragged-right margins were a sign of slovenly hipness, as much a regrettable fad as bell-bottoms, long sideburns and large collars.
He taught a lot for Ragan, and toward the end of his career Ragan staffer Pat Williams asked him if he ever had a hard time remembering the names of those who attended his sessions.
"Oh no," he replied. "I just call all the guys 'Champ,' and all the ladies, 'Honey.'"
I once worked with Ed to produce a book. He believed desktop design was a fad, too. So this was a real honest-to-goodness cut-and-paste job which he sent to us, all mocked up and, in Ed's mind, ready to shoot and print. The Ragan staff designer and I took it down to the corner tavern to look through it and determine if she could reproduce it on the computer.
I spilled our second pitcher of beer all over the manuscript, and we frantically mopped up the pages, one by one.
Now I ask you: With a head full of yarns like that, how can you not feel 72?
Robert J Holland, ABC says
What a great story, David.
I was fortunate enough to be in Dr. Arnold’s last class as a professor of mass communications teaching media graphics at Virginia Commonwealth University in the mid ’80s. Sure, he was a bit old fashioned, but the design principles he taught us are as valid today as they were then. It’s too bad more editors and designers (including those for online media) don’t follow them. Just because everybody’s doing something doesn’t make it good design.
One of the things I remember most about his classroom was the replica of the Gutenberg press that sat to one side. It was a symbol of just how significant mass communication was to the world and a nice reminder of where our industry had come from.
Not coincidentally, when I taught an intro to PR class at VCU a few years ago, I told my students that the impact of social media was like that of the Gutenberg press. Suddenly, the average person had the power to publish.
Old fashioned indeed.
David Murray says
Good points, Robert.
Little-known fact: Dr. Arnold used to play golf with Johannes Gutenberg, and he won that press on a bet.
(Which is why a double-or-nothing bet in golf is called a “press.”)
It all connects!
Tyler Hayes says
To Robert’s point, it is indeed too bad when we are delivered such great role models and yet see so many designers/writers/artists who seem to think that the traditional rules & framework don’t apply to them. That somehow they can create without first learning the fundamentals, which of course hardly ever change. And even when they do, it’s very slowly.
Reminds me of Alexander Mackendrick, who wrote an absolutely wonderful book, “On film-making.” Mackendrick was both a doer and a teacher, a rare combination indeed. Even today, his decades-old book is accepted as one of the first books any aspiring filmmaker should read.
The Internet is still young. Modern PCs are still young. We’re all still figuring out to balance old habits with our burgeoning sense of wanting to just move forward already. Give it some time.
Tyler Hayes says
Also, thank you for the story David. I loved it!