Interview with Daniel Perera, QSystems
newspaper techniques: Which editorial processes have you automated during the last years at most of your newspapers? I am thinking about tasks such as the creation of televised programmes, data transmission, etc.
Daniel Perera: Strictly speaking, only a part of certain processes has been automated. The processes concerned are: the placement of identifying data on the page (page number, price, column), the creation of PDF or EPS files for exposure, photos retouching (only for reproduction errors), ad and image import, content export, ad distribution, imposition, pre-
Computerisation has brought countless major and minor benefits to the newsrooms.
nt: How have the productivity and quality of these process developed after their automation?
Daniel Perera: Dramatically. The computer systems that I know have given more work to the technicians and responsibilities to the personnel in charge, but have also eliminated waiting times in the newsroom. At present, it is the computers that wait in the editors. Where we have installed computer systems, instead of closing the editions at midnight or 1 a.m., we close them at latest at 10 or 11 p.m.
nt: Which processes are not yet automated but should be in your opinion?
Daniel Perera: I think that the systems and their functions satisfy the needs of the customers and currently, as always, new demands are arising, but the majority of processes and necessary mechanisms have already been developed and implemented in numerous products as well as a wide range of different technologies. The most blatant evidence is that at present all the manufacturers are offering similar things under different names. I do not believe in the existence of processes that cannot be automated at all. Perhaps in the area of ad design, as the major complexity hinders the development of economic and flexible solutions.
nt: Do you see any danger in the growing automation of newspaper production processes?
Daniel Perera: Yes, undoubtedly. And many companies are not even aware of this. I have seen things in some newsrooms that cast doubt on the entropy of the universe.
What happens is that there are still some rare persons who know that they are engaged in an activity where their work is extremely critical. In this way, newspapers are different to many other businesses. Such persons are accustomed to getting the newspapers out of crises that go unnoticed or never truly appreciated … because they resolve themselves or after just several hours. And when there is a problem, the cost for solving it never presents an economic threat to these businesses. Nor do I see any dangers for the newspaper employees. Someone must do the work and computers cannot do anything by themselves. Fortunately!