When we talk about the Press, as an organisation, as an institution, as a force in society – the “Fourth Estate”, as it’s sometimes called, languishing in the old hierarchy after the clergy, nobility, and commoners – we are really talking about a machine, a device for applying ink onto a surface to reproduce type or an image. This beautiful retired printing press now stands outside the offices of Caxton Magazines in Johannesburg, a reminder not just of the technology but of what it has come to stand for. The press, wielded in freedom, is an engine of a free society, a driver for the distribution of ideas, information, and knowledge that can change minds and change the world. People talk about “the Press” (whether or not it requires an uppercase P is a matter of much debate in the Press) and “the media” as interchangeable concepts. But strictly speaking, only printed media can really be classified as pressed media. People also talk of the media as if it is a single, homogenous entity, when it is really a cacophony of different and divergent viewpoints and voices. The world of media is a world of change: changing platforms, changing technologies, changing markets and audiences. But five centuries after Gutenberg and his Bible, wherever there are stories to be told and people to tell them, we press on.


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