The country's largest independent book festival started today with a writers conference, and after that series of workshops concluded the day ended with a speech entitled, 'The Vital Future of the Printed Word', by Sir Harold Evans, a man whose laundry list of accolades is so detailed that to only mention a few honors would seem an offense.
Sir Evan's called out what he deemed 'The four Horseman of the Apocalypse' concerning the printed word--one of which was internet technologies and rapid sharing/printing of information. Then he spelled out what he saw as the future print media and a point of eternal optimism when newspapers are closing faster than ever all over the world: Print on Demand. I found it ironic that he didn't truly address the irony.
In fact, he played his duality very well. He never condemned technology, praised it's many accomplishments, yet adamantly stated the importance of true journalism. His definition of 'the news' was the same as given to him by the proprietor of a news paper he served as editor of in England. "The news is that which someone would pay you not to report." He made his views very clear on how the internet could never deliver the news. A point that upon the conclusion of his talk I was in agreement with.
His eternal optimism was really very catching. Especially so for a writer seeking publication. Even when he referred to himself as a 'relic' and a physical book as an 'artifact' he made the words feel like I do about a great work of fiction: something to be treasured. When asked how to best motivate younger generations to write and appreciate the written word, he responded with a truth that I've never considered. "People want to express themselves, and more so than any other fashion, in writing." As proof he pointed to the bloggers-sphere and said no more.
He was smart, prepared, overly-well informed and truely had something to say. It's not everyday you get to hear a presentation by someone such as he. At least we can read his books, and look forward to his memior.