Posted by Tom Gable
Will print media make a comeback starting in 2011 or will newspapers be gone by 2022?
Two recent postings questioned the future of newspapers and print media. Joe Pulizzi, writing in Folio, noted that print can and should play a vital role in an overall content marketing mix. He offered seven reasons why he envisioned good news for print in the coming year (summarized here; see his post for more detail):
1. Getting Attention: There are fewer publications in most niches, so each gets more attention.
2. Print Media Help with Customer Retention
3. No Audience Development Costs; marketers can distribute a magazine to their customers using existing lists.
4. What’s Old Is New Again; marketers are leveraging print in their marketing mix.
5. Customers Still Need to Ask Questions. He noted that you can ask yourself tough questions based on what you read.
6. Print Still Excites People: He talked to a journalist who said it’s harder to get people to agree to an interview for an online story than print; people will reschedule for that.
7. Unplug: Joe opined that people are disconnecting themselves from digital media in increasing numbers. (Recent studies show that digital overload actually hurts cognition).
I agree wholeheartedly on No. 6 on the excitement of print, plus its credibility. Coverage in a real, non-electronic publication with a history of competence and integrity has significantly more value than coverage in most online media and blogs (the latter being, of course, fairly low on the credibility scale). Seeing your story in the print edition of the NYT, WSJ, Economist or even your home town daily paper generates a great sense of accomplishment. PR professionals almost expect coverage to land in on-line media, so the so-called earned media isn’t as dear online as in print. Of course the print media have a website, RSS feed, Twitter feed, etc., so you can have the best of both worlds. And it’s a world I surely want to continue in perpetuity.
On the other side of the debate, Ross Dawson, a futurist, was speaking to Newspaper Publishers’ Association in Australia and predicted that within 10 years, mobile reading devices would allow people to consume news on the run and be the “primary news interface”.
He predicted the costs would fall from the $600 iPad level to under $10. “More sophisticated news readers will be foldable, or rollable, gesture-controlled and fully interactive,” he said.
He predicted journalism would be “increasingly crowdsourced” to “hordes of amateurs overseen by professionals.” (We now have that on the web, mostly with no adult supervision)
He did predict expert journalists would still be employed in Australia. Audiences would be guided to trusted journalists by some form of public reputation measures (probably recorded from electronics sensors implanted in our skins and transmitted wirelessly to the Media Measurement Algorithm Monitor in the sky).
Bottom line: this former printer journalist and long-time PR practitioner believes the printed word will continue to be valued by many, most notably those with a sense of the weight of non-electronic media. I read four papers every morning with breakfast and love to see how the news is played, the relationships of stories, news judgment in context and find new discoveries on every page. Sure, you can get a little serendipity online, but I don’t think the medium works that way. I find the printed variety better for scanning and quickly absorbing the flow of news and trends. I can turn a page and scan it faster for information than I can scrolling through a website screen or agonizing as I view 14 lines of news at a time on my Blackberry.
Joe, thanks for the post. I second the motion: print is rebounding — in 2011 and beyond.