Vol 60 No 1 2020
A History of the IAP News Bulletin
Reflections by Dr. Robin Cooke (Editor from 1995 to 2014)
The IAP News Bulletin has had a long and dynamic history. From a typewritten paper sent via post, to its current form, now created and distributed electronically, this remarkable journey across decades has been chronicled below by Dr. Robin Cooke, immediate past editor:
Preliminary experience with Newsletters
The inaugural meeting of the Australasian Division of the IAP was held in the lecture theatre of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney in 1973. The Secretary was Peter Cropley from Sydney and he began to write Newsletters and continued to do that until 1983.
Peter composed the Newsletters and typed them on his manual ribbon typewriter. He then printed and folded them and put them into envelopes, applied stamps and posted them to all members in Australia and New Zealand.
The Newsletters contained reports on the proceedings of meetings relating to the Australasian Division, and increasingly he advertised international meetings, especially the USCAP.
Peter was heavily involved in the organisation of the first International Congress of the IAP to be held in Sydney in 1982. He was becoming busier in his private practice so he resigned as Secretary and Editor.
I became the fourth Editor in 1989. The Secretary, Warick Delprado had considerable computer skills so he proceeded to upgrade the appearance of the presentation.
In 1990 we added black and white photos of the two invited speakers - Steven Silverberg (Gyn pathology) and David Walker (Infectious Diseases)
In 1995 I appointed Luke Perkins as graphic designer and we printed the first four-page newsletter with good quality photographs. This was a historic meeting, being the first meeting of what became the APIAP (Association of Asia Pacific IAP societies).
The edition 2010 Number two was the first in full colour, and it was dramatically better.
I resigned as Editor in 2014, but provided all the photographs from the Annual Meetings for the Newsletters in 2015 and 2016.
I was appointed Editor of the News Bulletin at the International Congress of the IAP in Hong Kong in 1994. The newly elected President was Phil Allen, an Australian who I knew. The Secretary was Florabel Mullick, Assistant Director of the AFIP. The Treasurer was Jack Strong from New Orleans.
I had a number of questions that I needed to have answered before I prepared my first edition. Roger Cotton the retiring Editor was very apologetic that he did not have any articles in reserve, and he did not know how the Bulletin was printed and distributed.
Roger used to dictate the articles to his wife and she typed them using a manual typewriter that worked on a ribbon. He then sent this by airmail to the Printer, Mercury Press in Rockville near Washington. After that he was uncertain as to what happened next.
I needed to have approval to make some adjustments to the format of the Bulletin and to be able to print photos, all of which needed money. The treasurer, Jack Strong was the one to be able to help me with this.
The quickest method of communicating was by fax. When I began to edit the proofs of my first textbook, ‘A Colour Atlas of Anatomical Pathology,’ in 1986, I communicated with the Editor of Churchill Livingstone in Edinburgh, Scotland by air mail. After the first few exchanges, the hospital purchased its first fax machine. It was kept in the office of the Director of Medical Services. To send a fax in the late 1980s, I had to make a phone call to the external Post Office switch board. They gave me a code and I would then feed my letter into our machine. The Editor replied from his end to the office of the Medical Director of my hospital, and I would collect his reply from the Director’s Secretary.
The images were poor quality black and white and they did not give a full picture of the colour images I was having printed in the Atlas. By the time I became Editor, I had just established a solo private practice and installed a fax machine to send reports to some of my referring doctors. This was still black and white, which was quite satisfactory for printed material, but very poor for images.
Communications like this were very unsatisfactory, so I had some Study Leave due and I decided to visit the US, first to see Jack Strong, and then to meet Jim Crimmins, Secretary to the USCAP at the head office in Augusta.
Jack was agreeable to my suggestions and gave me carte blanche to go ahead. I arranged to visit the office of Mercury Press. Jim Crimmins arranged to meet me there as he had not met the people at Mercury either, and was curious to know how they operated. Jim and I immediately formed a very friendly relationship that matured over the next 23 years.
My editorial policy was formulated during my discussions with Jim and modified over subsequent years.
- I wanted to report on major meetings of the IAP and USCAP
- To visit as many of the 55 Divisions as I could, so as to be able to report on the people and the history of pathology in those countries
- I was interested in Medical Museums, and I began to report on Museums that were adapting to meet the challenge of remaining relevant in the 21st Century
- I encouraged some people to write articles for me and provide relevant photos
- Some potential authors who did not have English as their first language had difficulty in writing English, so I would make notes of what they were saying and then rewrite it in ‘Cooke style English’ for them to check before publication
- I had very few ‘letters to the Editor’ so I could only assess what people thought about my efforts by speaking to them at conferences.
Back home in Brisbane after my sojourn in the US, I started to compose my first edition. I selected the black and white photos I had taken of delegates at the Hong Kong congress and I dictated commentaries for my secretary, Kathy Bevin to type. We decided that we would try to produce the Bulletin ourselves – a bad mistake.
I then visited a printing firm to find out more about printing such a News Bulletin. As I was getting more and more into deep water, a man who was standing next to me at the counter said ‘I think you need me to help you. Would you like to come with me to my office?’
There he introduced me to his newly appointed junior graphic designer, Luke Perkins who soon became a master of his craft, and was responsible for making all subsequent Editions ‘come to life.’
I would give him the words and the pictures and suggest an order for the articles. He did the rest. For the first few years Luke put everything together and set it out for printing on a large sheet of x-ray film. I rolled this up and put it into a cardboard cylinder and mailed it by air mail to Mercury Press in Rockville.
They ‘laid it up for printing’ and faxed Luke and me a proof copy. We approved this or made minor adjustments and faxed it back. Their master copy was then sent to a printing and distributing firm in the mid West that folded each copy in an automatic folding machine and mailed them in batches – straight into the US Mail for the US and Canada, and by American Express in batches to Division Secretaries in other countries.
The British Division was different in that the copies were sent to Wiley Publishing in Oxford. They would place one copy into the copies of Histopathology that were mailed to every member of the British Division.
The timing of this chain of events was critical. Mercury Publishing needed to know when they would be getting the copy from me so they could order the appropriate amount of paper.
Wiley Publishing needed to know that they would get their copies in time for one of their mailings of Histopathology. Division Secretaries needed to know when they would get editions so they would coincide with their regular mailings to members.
My first edition in 1995 had a printing of 9,000. My last one in 2017 had a printing of 23,000. We coped with the increasing distribution numbers quite seamlessly.
The Internet was opened to commercial users in 1995. The Secretary of the IAP, Florabel Mullick arranged for Bruce Williams, a Veterinary Pathologist and Head of the IT Section of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) to put Edition 1996 Number two on a new web site that I called iaphomepage.org. Each edition since then has been placed on the web. Some Divisions now prefer to have only the web- based version.
Edition 1997 Number two was the first one in a 6 page format and in full colour. This allowed for more and bigger pictures to be printed, and for a centre fold with a feature article to be accommodated.
Kathy Bevin left for a change of employment in 2002 and I took over the typing as well as taking and enhancing the photographs.
- When Mercury Press installed a server to which we could email our material, the time from preparation to printing was reduced from two to three weeks to about one week
- The time taken for ‘laying up’ the print master also became shorter by doing this electronically rather than manually
- The quality of the images improved with better cameras and printing machines
- I took pictures of people attending the various meetings and I added names to the photos
- At first I sent print copies to them in the mail
- When emails became available, I found that all my subjects were using emails. This was much easier and quicker
- This gesture was appreciated by the recipients and was good publicity for the News Bulletin.
In these reminiscences I have traced the enormous changes that have occurred in the past quarter century in technology and communications as they affected the people who were engaged in producing the News Bulletin for the International Academy of Pathology. We started in the era of manual typewriters and international communication via Air Mail.
Then came fax machines and electric typewriters. Followed by large computers, and then desktop and laptop computers, mobile phones and tablet devices.
My first editions were designed manually and mailed in the form of large x-ray sheets. Editing was done by exchange of faxes.
The Internet brought another revolution, with publishers having cloud-based servers and electronic design machines that reduced the time from preparation to distribution from a few weeks to a few days.
It has been a fascinating journey for both me and my ‘team.’
by Dr. Robin Cooke