Putting out the fire

Almost everyone reading this website will have suffered some disruption to their work and their life from the ongoing pandemic caused by the corona virus and its associated covid-19 illness. So no surprise that it’s also affected my work and I want to take the time at the start of the new year to explain to readers what that means for this website going forward.

People wearing masks at Victoria train station, London, to combat the Corona Virus pandemic.

I have worked as a freelance journalist specialising in covering the printing sector for nearly 20 years now, writing for a variety of established trade magazines over the years, mostly in the UK, but also including titles in Australia, India and Germany. I have mostly used this website to research and write stories that interested me in support of that work. But, the pandemic crisis has meant that most magazines have seen a drop in their advertising income that has forced them to cut their editorial budgets, and to stop outsourcing work to freelancers such as myself. This issue has affected a great many journalists around the world, regardless of the subjects they cover. 

However, I had personally reached a crossroads even before the pandemic. Over the last few years this website has grown, both in the range of stories that I cover and in the number of readers from around the world. That has made it harder for me to find a balance between working on this site, which has no commercial basis, and my freelance work, which has been my only income. 

So in some ways the pandemic has done me a favour, by giving me the time to rethink the way that I work. In some ways it’s made journalism a more difficult job as it’s harder to see new equipment, to evaluate the print coming out of the machines, and to chat face to face with people. But it has also given me the freedom to spend more time writing stories for this website and to develop longer stories. I’ve enjoyed doing this, and judging by the feedback that I’ve received, many readers have also appreciated this.  

Primera’s Eddie printer uses thermal inkjet to print directly to cookies and biscuits.

But that leads me to the obvious problem of how to fund this work. It has always been important to me that this site should be free to read, but at the same time it needs to demonstrate some sort of income for it to continue to be taken seriously.

I’ve been putting out the fire

With gasoline 

David Bowie. Cat people

However, I don’t intend to ever take any money, or other payment in kind, for advertising, sponsorship or any form of marketing for this website, as that would undermine my whole approach. Instead, I aim to follow the basic principles of journalism and to write impartial and accurate stories with a view to informing and hopefully entertaining anyone interested. This work takes time, to check facts, research subjects, carry out interviews and to write the stories. I try to avoid the obvious shortcut of leaning too heavily on press releases and marketing information and instead prefer to carry out interviews and any further research myself. 

Towards the end of last year I experimented by adding a request for donations to each story to fund this work (which you can find at the end of this post). Quite a few people have responded to this and I am incredibly grateful to those individuals. So for now I’m going to continue with this experiment and see where it takes us. It may well be that in the future I will have to consider some kind of limited charge or subscription for those stories that take more time and effort to produce but for now I prefer the simplicity of leaving it to individual readers to decide how much, if anything, this Printing and Manufacturing Journal is worth to them.

In addition, I am also open to licensing some of my stories to other publications. Many of my stories are already published in Japanese on ohno-inkjet.com and I’m interested in talking with magazine editors from other countries. Such licensing arrangements could offer magazines a way around the problem of how to extend their coverage with a limited budget so if anyone would like to discuss this further then please get in touch with me.

In the meantime, the site will continue to evolve, probably with more emphasis on longer features going forward where I believe that I can add more useful insight. But I will also write more news, interviews and opinion pieces, and will continue to cover a broad range of commercial and industrial printing technologies and their uses as described in a separate story Change and Continuity. I probably won’t be the first to publish any given news story as my approach generally takes time. Instead my intention is to flesh out these stories, to provide as much information as possible without any form of bias so that readers can work out for themselves what applies to their own individual situations.  

Most shops, including charity shops, as well as pubs and restaurants are currently shut.

At some point in time, the pandemic will ease and everyone will get back to full time work. I hope that means that all the commercial magazines will also bounce back and be in a position to outsource work to independent journalists like myself. So this is not about abandoning the magazines that I have worked with in the past – rather it is about finding a balance between the two halves of my work – this website and the established magazines – so that each benefits the other. 

In the meantime, I want to encourage readers to get in touch with me. It’s always interesting to hear from the people that are reading my work, and I welcome any feedback, particularly in terms of what type of stories you would like to see covered here and how you would like to see Printing and Manufacturing Journal develop further.

…with a little help from my friends

If you value independent journalism then please consider making a donation to help support Printing and Manufacturing Journal. There’s no advertising or other income attached to this site as my aim is to provide impartial and in-depth information to all readers. However, it takes time to carry out interviews and check facts so if this site is of interest to you then please support my work. You can find more information about me here.






Syndicate content

You can license the articles from Printing and Manufacturing Journal to reproduce in other publications. I generally charge around £150 per article but I’m open to discussing this for each title, particularly for publishers that want to use multiple stories. I can provide high res versions of images for print publications.

I’m used to working with overseas publishers and am registered for VAT with the UK’s HMRC tax authority but obviously won’t charge VAT to companies outside the UK. You can find further details and a licensing form from this page, or just contact me directly here.

Support this site

If you find the stories here useful then please consider making a donation to help fund Printing and Manufacturing Journal, either as a one-off or a repeat payment. Journalism is only really useful if it’s truly independent and this is the only such news source serving the print/ manufacturing sectors.

However, there are costs involved in travelling to cover events, as well as maintaining this site, not to mention the time that it takes to carry out research, check facts and interview people. So if you value this work, then please help to maintain it and keep it free to read.


Never miss a story – subscribe to Printing and Manufacturing Journal to receive an email notification every time an article is published here. It’s completely free of charge and you can cancel the subscription at any point without any hassle. There’s no need to provide any information other than an email address and subscribers details are not for sale so there’s no risk of any further marketing spam.

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