Fiona RobertsFiona was one of the original founders of Graphic News along with Duncan Mil, and as a Director is responsible, with Jane Brodie, for the administrative side of the business
Starting her career as a PhD-level research scientist in University in the 1970s, Fiona went on to manage the research interface between university and the Pharmaceutical industry, specialising in intellectual property transfer and licensing. Her empathy with creative people and small start-up businesses stood her in good stead when she met Duncan Mil.
As Duncan's partner she was responsible for the early introduction of computers to Graphic News, first the Osborne portable in 1982 (to make invoicing less of a chore) and then Macs (not for producing graphics initially, but as an alternative to using a typesetting agency).
The Falklands War in 1982 demonstrated both the business potential of graphics -- Duncan’s Falklands War series being published worldwide - but also the difficulties. Not a penny was received because of the inability to deliver electronically and be paid cost-effectively. By 1990 these obstacles were overcome with the introduction of Adobe Illustrator to draw, PressLink to deliver, plus electronic payment methods. So when Duncan wanted to start his own Graphic News Service in 1991, Fiona provided the administrative infra-structure so that the artists could focus on producing the best service possible, without their being bogged down by administrative chores.
By 2007 the technology roller coaster had moved on and Fiona jump-started the digital revolution at Graphic News. She recognised that:
• the graphics teams of the future would need to extend their repertoire from Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to include animation -- first with Adobe Flash and then Adobe Edge Animate.
• The only way to offer such a product to meet news deadlines and at a price news media could afford, would be to use the research and artwork from traditional static graphics.
• Interactive graphics for news media would need to be modifiable and editable, for the same reasons as this was needed for traditional graphics
• Interactive graphics would need to be easy to use, a particular challenge in view of the multiplicity of content management systems and their hostility to graphics.
In 2015 the shift to mobile necessitated a major review of construction and newsroom organization to produce graphics that would respond (rather than simply scale) when viewed on digital platforms of different size.