While I am not one who asserts with certainty that printed newspapers will disappear, I do believe that I some of them will not be printed Monday through Friday at all, instead publishing a robust Sunday and/or weekend edition.
Making such statements during my presentations usually tends to disturb some members of the audience, who, in turn, use social media to express their disagreement.
"I don't romance the printed newspaper," I say often. I don't think the printed newspaper should be the protagonist in the media quartet. If there is a place to do print happily and smartly, it is by realizing the printed newspaper's limitations in a world of 24/7 news and information.
At the recent TEDx Poynter conference, out of 8 speakers on the subject of "disruption", there were printed newspapers mentioned only in my presentation. Those mentions were, of course, in reference to the media quartet and to discuss the role of a printed publication not to offer breaking news, but to be more lean back and analytical.
The regional press thriviing?
Very appropriate to this conversation, I had a dinner in Amsterdam Tuesday night with Christian Van Thillo, CEO of the Belgian media group, De Persgroep. I have worked with Christian on about 11 different projects over the past 20 years.
Christian’s group just acquired the Mecon Group, with newspaper properties in the Netherlands and Denmark.
“This is a good time to take these brands forward into the multimedia world,” Christian told me. “There is a role for the printed newspaper, and much to be explored with regional newspapers."
Christian mentioned that several of De Persgroep newspapers are doing well, including the print editions.
He is upbeat and enthusiastic about newspapers—and, obviously putting his company’s money into them.
The end of the printed newspaper?
It is good to hear Van Thillo's enthusiastic approach, which I think is right on target: continuing to develop digital strategies for both editorial and advertising through his newspaper brands, but also repositioning print.
Now I am wondering the resonance that a recent essay by Clay Shirky, a social media theorist. Titled, "Last Call," this piece is worth reading as Shirky pulls no punches and appears totally convinced of the demise of print. He's even more concerned with the future of journalism and journalists.
Here are some highlights of the Shirky piece worth reviewing:
About the future of print
"When the Tribune Company recently got rid of their newspapers, the New York Times ran the story under a headline “The Tribune Company’s publishing unit is being spun off, as the future of print remains unclear.”
"The future of print remains what? Try to imagine a world where the future of print is unclear: Maybe 25 year olds will start demanding news from yesterday, delivered in an unshareable format once a day. Perhaps advertisers will decide “Click to buy” is for wimps. Mobile phones: could be a fad. After all, anything could happen with print. Hard to tell, really.
The future of journalists
"If you are a journalist at a print publication, your job is in danger. Period. Time to do something about it.
"Contrary to the contrived ignorance of media reporters, the future of the daily newspaper is one of the few certainties in the current landscape: Most of them are going away, in this decade.
The advertisers are fleeing
"From the advertiser’s point of view, the nation’s newspapers have become little more than a blue-bag delivery service, with a horoscope and enough local sports inside to get people to open the bag."
The need for team efforts
".....journalism is becoming more of a team sport. Integrated text and visuals, databases the readers can query and annotate themselves, group live blogging of breaking news — all this requires collaboration far more engaged than the old ‘one story, one byline’ model. Volunteer for (or propose) anything that involves deeper teamwork than you’re used to, and anything that involves experimenting with new tools or techniques."
Sample page from the Douglas Okasaki portfolio
It’s a joy to see the work of Douglas Okasaki, with whom I have the pleasure of meeting every time I get to work with the talented design team of the Gulf News, in Dubai.
Douglas handles the design of the Sports Section at the Gulf News. The world is already quite aware of Douglas’ amazing talent. From Brazil originally, Douglas is a constant award winner. Douglas’ pages won 25 Awards of Excellence at SND35.
Now Douglas’ work has been selected for Portfolio of the Week by VisualLoop.
See for yourself here: