10 JULY 2020
On Tuesday, 7 July the Court elected the Right Reverend Dr Stephen Platten as Master, Mr Robert Flather as Upper Warden and Ms Moira Sleight as Under Warden.
In these somewhat tricky times it was good to be able nevertheless to hold the Master's installation, albeit in virtual form. Some 144 people joined together via Zoom for the ceremony. A video was recorded which will be available here in due course. Meanwhile we congratulate the new Master, seen in his study in Berwick-upon -Tweedi and wearing his chain of office.
A press release was issued which you can read here.
You can read the biographies of the new Upper Warden, Mr Robert Flather and Under Warden, MsMoira Sleight, here.
6 JULY 2020
Further to the Rising to the Challenge # 1 and #2 , the Stationers' Industry Committee was pleased to arrange Rising to the Challenge #3 on 29 June 2020. Members should login and view the article here where they can also watch the webinar.
Liveryman Jonathan Grun reports:
Rachel Murphy’s telephone rang at 9pm on a Sunday evening in mid-March, as the dark clouds of the Coronavirus crisis were gathering over the country.
The call was a plea for help with the government’s digital response to the pandemic.
“We mobilised in 24 hours,” Rachel, CEO at Difrent Group, told the Company’s third Rising to the Challenge webinar.
The work produced by Rachel’s teams has had a high profile direct impact on the Covid-19 fight-back.
Hundreds of thousands of emergency volunteers have been recruited using one of the products, the NHS 111 helpline has been able to bring retired clinicians back to work and a system for testing medical staff who were isolating at home meant some key workers could go back to the front line.
Rachel told the webinar chaired by Carol Tullo: “Lots of businesses plan for eventualities but I never conceived of something like this happening in my lifetime.
“I have spent twenty years doing turn-around stuff in organisations where things are normally on fire, so I like it dramatic - but this is a different league.”
Rachel was struck by how the different suppliers called in to help all freely collaborated in the emergency. “One of my observations is that suppliers leave their badge at the door - it is the drive around delivering the outcome that is the most important part.”
Rachel acknowledged that mistakes had been made – and referred to efforts to build the now-controversial track and trace app. “The approach around trying to build a world class solution was a dangerous one because the NHS is a provider of health services, it is not a tech start-up.”
An alternative approach would have been to use a tried and tested system already in use elsewhere.
Neil Westwood, senior associate at lawyers Simmons & Simmons, also spoke of how the crisis had confronted lawyers with challenges understanding the legal implications of tracing applications.
“Not many lawyers knew about contact tracing before the pandemic emerged – there is not much hard law that frames how these applications can operate,” he said.
“The pandemic has been horrible in many ways but the way in which technology has helped combat the pandemic – or not - has been fascinating.”
There have been concerns about the privacy of the tracing app but Neil said: “There are arguments to say we can a little more relaxed - when we think about how people use commercial digital services that will involve the collection of vastly greater data in a less controlled fashion.”
Millions of people have been forced to embrace new technology as a result of the lockdown – and that has included Zoom, which has been used by the Company to host webinars.
Tom Bryant, founder of TFB and a specialist in digital transformation and digital culture, said: “You can imagine a worldwide case study on how we are culturally and psychologically adopting new tools.”
He added: “So often we focus on the technology itself but the technology is just a tool. We don’t need to become the slaves of technology.”
And he urged people trying a new application to have fun experimenting.
“Just try, experiment, push your comfort zone, try these new tools and really get the benefit.
“Sometimes it’s going to go well, sometimes it’s not - but you will learn. You are not going to break the Internet, you are not going to break Zoom - the more you do that the more confidence you will have.”
6 JULY 2020
Freeman Amy Hutchinson, CEO of BOSS, has brought these two really useful Covid-19 tools to our attention.
BOSS, the UK Trade Association for the business supplies industry, have launched a COVID-Secure Product Portal with their partner BPIF to connect those looking for COVID-Secure products with BOSS/BPIF members in both industries who are providing these products. The search is free to use for those in both the business supplies and printing industries. For detailsof the products included click here to read the full press release.
BOSS have also devised a ‘road map’ for those seeking to provide a safe environment for staff returning to the workplace.
BOSS members can click the image above to see a version with more information at each step.
6 JULY 2020
There is a widespread determination that a better society should emerge from the horrors of the first half of 2020. How is that determination expressed in the publishing industry? How can publishing reflect and embody the diversity of our society?
That was the topic for a lively session on Zoom on 1 July 2020, hosted jointly by the Stationers’ Company and Byte the Book, a membership organisation for authors and publishers. 90 people connected from around the world to join the event, which was jointly chaired by Justine Solomons, founder and CEO of Byte the Book, and Court Assistant and publishing Sector Champion, Oliver Gadsby. In the introductions, Oliver had the opportunity to introduce the Company to many for whom it was new, stressing the role it has played in the industry over six centuries, and ruefully mentioning that that Hall, previously shut for the plague in 1630, now had its doors closed again for the current pandemic.
The panel represented a wonderful range of experiences, opinions – and locations, with Bibi Bakare-Yusef connecting from Nigeria, and Katrina Gutierrez from the Philippines.
Covid-19 was much in the minds of the speakers, as they talked of how they and their businesses had coped over recent months.
But the dominant theme was the issues thrown up by the Black Lives Matter movement: all of the speakers were determined that the impetus for fair representation for black and minority ethnic communities should lead to lasting change in the publishing industry. David Shelley talked of the programmes used at Hachette, including their collaboration with Creative Access, to bring better representation into his large company. For Katrina Gutierrez, Lantana’s work to represent minorities in children’s books was central, whilst Bibi Bakare-Yusef talked of the vibrant list published by Cassava from its Nigerian base. Gift Ajimokun challenged the panel and the audience to think beyond token representation, and Isabelle Dupuy joined her in calling for profound change.
As ever, the Q&A was lively, with Stationers and Byte the Book members racing to get their questions in as the clock ticked towards the hour.
You can watch a video of the event by clicking the image below.
2 JULY 2020
The Livery Committee presented Liveryman Peter Day in conversation with Past Master Christopher McKane about his book ‘The Thunderer: The Life and Times of John Walter II’ plus hiscareer at The Times on 17 June 2020 via Zoom.
Liveryman Margaret Willes reports as follows:
In October last year Christopher McKane launched his book, The Thunderer, in Stationers’ Hall. As he spoke, the bells of St Paul’s Cathedral rang out in commemoration of Trafalgar Day. Now, less than eight months later, 69 of us had the opportunity to hear him in our own homes, talking about the book in conversation with Peter Day. This was thanks to Zoom, a technology that most of us had never heard of before the onset of the Covid virus, while monuments to Nelson are being protected against threats of destruction because of the Royal Navy’s role in keeping slave trading routes open during the Napoleonic Wars. It is another world.
Mike James, in his introduction, likened our June event to a literary cocktail party, and so it proved, as Peter led us through a mixture of topics. He began by asking Christopher about The Thunderer, an account of the life of John Walter Thompson II. John was the son of the founder of The Universal Daily Register which on the first day of 1788 became The Times. Taking advantage of steam printing technology, the paper enjoyed the biggest circulation in the country by the reign of Queen Victoria, sold all over the country thanks to a burgeoning transport network. John Walter II was a qualified apprentice, knowledgeable in all areas of newspaper-making, and he was a strike breaker, prefiguring 1986 and the move of The Times to Wapping.
This enabled the discussion to move on to Christopher’s own career in journalism, which began fifty years ago, when he ‘fell into’ a job at the Oxford Times as a trainee sub-editor and went on to become deputy editor at The Times, with a spell as the picture editor at the newly created Independent. As that new paper laid great emphasis on the quality of the images, the job was made in heaven.
Christopher recalled the Wapping clash as a bruising experience, with the printing unions proving intransigent. It was ironical therefore that as a Stationer he found himself on the Court in 2000 with Brenda Dean, general secretary of SOGAT during the 1980s. Although previously on opposite sides of the fence, they got on famously. Characterising the Court as a body of thirty opinionated people, he felt that the time to do things was as a Warden, with the role of Master as a front man, although great fun.
As questions from guests were passed to Christopher by Peter, so interconnections were made between the newspaper industry in the time of John Walter II, and what is happening today. The Times described the outbreak of cholera as a ‘disgraceful case of negligence’ for which the government was unprepared. In an age of digital newspapers, The Times is in a relatively strong position during this period of pandemic. No doubt this will feature in Christopher’s next book, on the paper in recent times, drawing upon the people with whom he has worked.
On a note of optimism, our cocktail party drew to a close.
You can watch a video of the conversation here:
30 JUNE 2020
The Marketing Advisory Committee have been working under the guidance of Liveryman Sir Robert Worcester (founder of MORI which was sold to the French research company Ipsos to become Ipsos MORI) on a survey of the membership.
30 JUNE 2020
Here are the final poems from the Poetry Book Society in their series of locked down suggestions. Thank you to Liveryman Ian Grant for liaising with them and to Alice Mullen of the Poetry Book Society for her selections. Members should log in to their own area of the website to read them and details of a special Members' offer.
29 JUNE 2020
The Shine School Media awards have been announced in an an online ‘at home’ ceremony.
22 JUNE 2020
The Poetry Book Society have suggested this poem by Bhanu Kapil as our ninth lock down poem. Members will find it in their own area of the website and should log in and read it there along with all sorts of other items pertinent to the lock down!
17 JUNE 2020
Succession planning at Kolbus UK prompts Under Warden Robert Flather to dig out a great photo of three generations of MD.
17 JUNE 2020
The new date for the Visual Media Conference (postponed from April) this year is 8 September.
17 JUNE 2020
Final call for entries for the Victor Watson Prize