Digital and print need to work together – one cannot survive without the other.
That was the message from Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Stella Tembisa Ndabeni-Abrahams, during her visit to printing giant, Novus Holdings in Sandton, Johannesburg on August 14th. The event was organized and coordinated by Printing SA in collaboration with Novus holdings in order to highlight to the dignitaries, the importance of the Printing and Packing industry to the South African economy.
She joined a host of dignitaries, including Printing SA’s CEO, Steve Thobela and Novus Holdings Paul de Bruin and Coenraad Pretorius, to emphasise the fact that the printing industry should not be view to be ‘dying’ industry but one that is vibrant and celebrates the convenience and connectivity of the internet but to caution that this was a changed world and not a new world. It was one where technology had revolutionized but not replaced the process of printing which still remained the mainstay of learning and the economy.
While the deputy minister acknowledged the value of digital education, she cautioned that there were still 22 million unconnected people in South Africa. The price of data and the absence of infrastructure in rural areas meant that critical things like printed school text books remained integral to the learning process.
Felleng Yende, CEO of the FP&M Seta, sketched just how the extensive print sector contributed to the national economy with 2000 printing and packaging companies, 700 suppliers to those companies, 45 000 people working in the printing industry and 31 artisan trades in the industry. Print reached across products and was everywhere – from revolutionary 3D printing to banners and labels, from wood, to plastic and glass. Moreover, despite campaigns urging people to not print to save trees, paper and print had one of the lightest environmental footprints contributing just one percent to global emissions and boasting South Africa’s highest recycling rate. At least 70 percent of packaging is recycled in South Africa.
A presentation by Deon Joubert, acting President of Printing SA and country manager of Two Sides, which promotes the responsible production and use of print of paper and educates consumers on its use as an effective communication medium, showed that even the man in the street valued both. According to a study carried out by the organisation, 92 percent of people surveyed wanted to be able to choose how they receive information and most wanted both print and digital, he pointed out. The biggest issue was trust. 50 percent of interviewees still liked to read newspapers/ books rather than online, 83 percent doubted the credibility of digital information and 63 percent didn’t pay attention to online advertising. A whopping 82 percent placed more trust in traditional media and it was no longer about speed but believability with many brands increasingly targeting magazines for advertising, he said.
The consensus was that a world without printing was unimaginable and that print, as an important value adds to the economy and potential contributor to government’s initiative to drive economic growth through industrialization, would not only remain trustworthy in its own right but ultimately drive value to the internet.