There were 29 members in attendance along with two guests and our speaker at the March 19 meeting.  This week’s guests included Lyric Hughes Hale and Jennifer  Kwang.  Lyric was a Winnetka Rotary Scholar in Japan and is currently a financial writer contributing to the LA Times, Financial Times, USA Today and others.  She brought her friend Jennifer, also a writer and publisher.
President Bob announced that the Winnetka-Northfield Chamber of Commerce has chosen our own Patti Van Cleave, Executive Director of the Winnetka Historical Society, as Woman of the Year.  Chuck Young, Executive Director of the Hadley School for the Blind and also a member of our club, has been chosen Man of the Year.  These two great Winnetkans will be honored at the Chamber’s annual luncheon on April 8.
Heidi Sibert informed us that we now have over 440 volunteers for our annual Kids Against Hunger program on March 21.  They will also be selling raffle tickets at the event to assist with the expenses of this project.
The Club was reminded that our annual benefit is schedule for May 16th.  The event will be held at the Winnetka Community House, “Catered by Design” will provide the food and Keith Reed will provide the musical entertainment.  John Thomas, President-Elect, is the chair of this year’s benefit.  The proceeds will go toward funding our 2016 community grants program.
We celebrated the birthday of Rodger Morris, our most senior member, and Marie Kuipers’ 1st anniversary as a member of our club.
Our speaker for the day was former member, George Harmon, a professor of Journalism at Northwestern University.  George has been in the publishing business his entire life serving as a reporter, editor, and publisher in Chicago area daily newspapers.  His topic was the “Future of Print.” His contention was that the problem was neither quality nor readership; it was how the revenue has migrated.  The publishing industry is an $82 billion business and it is shrinking 1 to 2% a year. 
George said that we are in a sea change in the industry as to how print media is distributed and how it is used.  24-hour TV news and the Internet have caused major changes in how people get their news today.  So the newspaper and magazine industry have suffered the greatest losses, as they are dependent on advertising whereas the book industry has not been as greatly affected, as they were never reliant on advertising dollars.  Newspapers had received 80% of their revenue from advertising and with fewer people dependent on a traditional newspaper, businesses started to look elsewhere to spend their advertising dollars and to go elsewhere to get their message out.  Books on the other hand, never being dependent on advertising are experiencing decreased revenue, but it is more than offset by decreased publishing costs, think of how easy it is to sell e-books – no printing costs no distribution costs.  Also there has been tremendous growth in self-publishing.    Publishing houses do not have to maintain a large inventory of given titles with today’s technological advances in publishing.
George pointed out that numerous categories of books are decreasing rapidly for topics like cooking, travel, reference and other areas that the Internet can serve faster and more efficiently. Barnes and Noble is hanging on since they sell to many universities and they sell many more things besides books.  A few independent bookstores survive because they are known to have a knowledgeable sales staff and loyal customer following – think Chestnut Court in Winnetka.
The news cycle has shrunk due to the 24-hour cable “news” stations.  George expressed concern that much of our TV news is being delivered by opinionists, especially on the cable stations, so that a new story is delivered from a particular point of view.  He also said that the mainstream media is not as liberal as is characterized by the hard-left.  We will all be the poorer if we let excellent ethics (such as separating news from opinion) lose out to questionable ethics.  We cannot afford to let Americans get lazy and have the opinionators tell us how to interpret the news.
An unsettling trend is that due to the need to reduce costs by publishers there is declining pay for writers and photographers and many people want their news for free.  George said “free” is a lousy business model.  It leads to underemployment for professional people.  “Billionaires are being created today by shrinking costs in labor and distribution.  Median income is below where it was decades ago.  Guess why economic growth is slow.”  Good food for thought from George.