Cancer claims David Cole after a career in publishing tech

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Former newspaper publishing consultant and publisher of the Cole Papers, David Cole has died of cancer aged 62.

While he had devoted a lifetime to journalism, he was best known as a technical authority at the time when newspaper production was being transformed by the application of desktop-based technologies.

He published the Cole Papers newsletter from 1989-2005, and was for a period a regular columnist for GXpress and its commercial printing predecessor/parent GX Report.

His journalistic career started early at Rolling Stone magazine as an assistant music editor, "crafter of cunning captions", and reviewer of the magazine's "slush pile" of unsolicitated manuscripts.

Hired to write funny headlines at the San Francisco Chronicle - where he also worked as copy editor and news editor on its seven zoned editions - his interest in emerging technology soon led to roles as systems editor and chief newsroom technologist. During a 12-year career there, was responsible for all newsroom computer systems - ranging from online experiments in the early 1980s to developing desktop colour systems by the end of the decade - and was simultaneously art director from 1985-86. Between 1984-1988, he ran The Examiner Poll, a public opinion survey.

He was a lecturer in journalism at San Francisco State University from 1980-83, and was executive editor, general manager and co-founder of feed/back, a non-profit quarterly journalism review magazine published by the journalism department from 1974-80 and from 1980-83.

He was active in the Junior Statesmen of America from 1969, serving on its board. In 2011, he became owner of Steam in the Garden, which focused on small-scale live steam engines, with articles about buying, building and maintaining steam locomotives.

He worked with a range of publishers both larger - including the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Associated Newspapers - and mid-sized ones, a list which included San Diego Union Tribune, Arizona Republic and Toronto Star, on system acquisition, new media product identification, newsroom workflow and advertising and circulation system specification. Among the smallest were Las Vegas Sun, Arizona's Casa Grande Dispatch and Wisconsin's Janesville Gazette.

After the Cole Papers, he continued with a weekly newsletter called NewsInc.

At a personal level, he was diagnosed with liver cancer last August, four days before the death of his partner Shirleen. His sister Sally told industry consultant (and GXPress columnist) John Juliano, he "died of a broken heart".

Peter Coleman with John Juliano

Pictured: David M. Cole aged 23, with an old wooden boat of which he was part-owner

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