Communication in perspectiveBy Gilbert M. Savery, retired newspaper editor, submitted by Bruce Anderson, VP-BE
The last half of the 20th Century has invited descriptive labeling. We have become familiar with popular labels given to this age, such as - nuclear, computer, post-industrial, space and communication.
For the first time in history, governments can no longer effectively control information. Satellites have erased many barriers to communication. On a personal level, computers make communication fast and convenient. This fact has direct application to all organizations seeking to improve the sharing of information with their members and with a larger public. Some believe the Internet and other computer-accessible data banks will replace the printed page. Not so fast! There is something quite inviting about being able to lift a printed bulletin from the coffee table without having to log on and pull up items of special interest on a computer screen.
Maintaining the printed page as an attractive, appealing form of communication is challenging. Brightly written items, tightly edited to conserve space and to avoid duplication, are essentials.
Yet these elements are merely the mechanical side of communication. The most important thing is to assure that material is published in a timely, clear manner to achieve maximum response to the efforts put forth by participants. A secondary element is the recording of activities for those who might be interested in the future. Creating a written historical record is indeed desirable. The flow of ideas from one group to another is extremely important. Ideas are precious and become a part of the shared education of like-minded people. A shared idea may well be the seed of a far greater achievement, although that is not always true. This concept was expressed by Oliver Wendell Holmes in this way:
In any event, the sharing of information is vital to continued improvement of performances in almost every field of human endeavor. That's why Americans attend so many workshops and seminars - both effective avenues of communication.
Much has been said about information overload in today's society. Not to worry! Enjoying a smorgasbord of ideas is just as enjoyable as a buffet loaded with a variety of foods. Making good choices for the mind requires even more discipline than making choices for the belly.
These are great days for communicators. Their work can add strength to whatever endeavor is undertaken. Good writing takes time and deserves polishing through revision and selection. That means choosing just the right word to convey a distinct meaning. Our new technical tools linked with our English language make for effective linking between transmitters and the receivers of messages. Bringing these elements into play is the challenge facing all who seek to communicate. This publication itself comes to you through the miracle of desktop publishing. Two parting thoughts: It has been said of newspapers that they are the "first rough draft of history." And, it is asked, what is editing if not determining what gets printed and what does not? That applies to everything from a full text to individual word selection.