To me, one of the most extraordinary revolutions to occur during Plastics News' 20 years relates to how information technology has utterly transformed business in general and the publishing business, in particular.
At the risk of carbon-dating myself, I still clearly recall joining Crain Communications Inc. in its Akron, Ohio, office in March 1980, and banging out stories for sister publication Rubber & Plastics News on a manual typewriter (with carbon paper). During my stint with Crain in London from 1981-88, we graduated to electric typewriters and eventually replaced the all-caps Telex machine with a new-fangled fax machine.
Returning to Akron in late 1988 to help launch Plastics News meant a leap into the high-tech world with in-house typesetting, page layout and almost (but not quite) one PC per person. Then along came the Internet, and everything changed.
I recall receiving the first major news release about plastics and the World Wide Web back in October 1994. I yawned and thought, Big deal.
My excitement with the Internet transformed when PN launched its own Web site in April 1996. Overnight, we went from being a weekly, North American business newspaper to a daily news service with global reach.
In May 2005 the Internet enabled one of our next great leaps into China. We launched a bilingual (English and simplified Chinese) Web site along with a weekly, bilingual e-mail newsletter called the PN China eWeekly. We broadcast the eWeekly digitally every Tuesday to about 10,000 readers around the world.
With information technology shrinking the globe, PN in July 2007 broadened its reach and acquired two European publications Plastics& Rubber Weekly and European Plastics News along with their dozen or so events. Now with a footprint on three continents (and firmly in cyberspace), the Plastics News Global Group is positioned to help you track news from wherever it happens, almost immediately.
The speed of transmitting information has never been faster, and the need for accurate, balanced reporting of news and business information has never been greater. With virtually anyone now able to post news online, business leaders need brands they can trust, that have the institutional knowledge to put information into the proper, useful context.
That's the job of responsible, experienced, professional journalists, and cannot easily (or reliably) be outsourced. Our 15-person PN editorial staff averages more than 11½ years per person of plastics industry experience. (And that doesn't even count Rich Williams, our 20-year editorial cartoonist.) The editorial staffers at PRW and EPN, meanwhile, average more than 22 years of industry experience!
We all have come a very long way since March 1989. We'd like to thank our readers, advertisers, parent company Crain Communications, and our loyal vendors, correspondents and staffers. I fully expect the next 20 years to be as thrilling as the first 20. Now, if you'll excuse me, we need to get back to resizing our Web site's video screen player.
Grace is Plastics News editor and associate publisher, and one of its original staffers.