By: E&P Staff
Consultant, educator and newspaper operations veteran Owen Smith was named president and managing director of NAA/Ifra Technical Solutions LLC, a joint venture of the Newspaper Association of America and Ifra, the international organization serving the news publishing industry.
Drawing on Ifra’s expertise, Smith will lead Technical Solutions’ development of specialized training programs, consulting services, and seminars for U.S. newspapers, beginning later this year.
“Owen’s depth of knowledge and experience in newspaper operations, consulting and technology education makes him uniquely qualified to lead Technical Solutions,” NAA President and CEO John F. Sturm said in announcing Smith’s selection. Ifra CEO Reiner Mittelbach said that while Ifra plans to focus more in the area of research, it will “provide all the necessary support to allow Owen to develop these services.”
Smith’s appointment fills the almost year-old organization’s top spot, which Bill Babiarz has held for several months on an interim basis.
Smith joins Technical Solutions from Owen Smith & Associates, Rochester, N.Y., an international consultancy for projects ranging from management and technical training, to plant expansions, reproduction quality, productivity and process re-engineering. From 1995 to 2000, Smith was the Paul & Louise Miller Distinguished Professor of Newspaper Operations at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he coordinated the newspaper program and was the primary instructor in newspaper systems analysis, management, distribution and production.
Before moving to Rochester, Smith served as Sacramento (Calif.) Bee production director from 1985 to 1992 and as government affairs director until 1995. He also was production vice president at the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock.
Smith said Technical Solutions will assure publishers “that the days of being over-charged and under-served by specialists are over.” Called “a total solution, reasonably priced and delivered anywhere and at anytime.” With help from Ifra experts, he added, North American newspapers will no longer “have to depend upon non-newspaper consultants for help with their work-flow problems.”
Florida Today Publisher Michael J. Coleman, an Ifra director and its vice president, called Technical Solutions “probably the best portender of Ifra’s role in North America in the years ahead.” He said “Ifra has stayed focused on its real niche,” and NAA recognizes Ifra’s “wealth of technical experience,” most notably in production. Technical Solutions, Coleman added, is an opportunity for North American publishers to avail themselves of that expertise.
More than 2,000 publishing companies and suppliers to the publishing industry are members of Ifra, which serves as a forum to exchange experiences and information. The worldwide member organization based in Darmstadt, Germany, deals with all issues related to publications production. NAA/Ifra Technical Solutions is based at NAA headquarters in Vienna, Va.