The Mario Blog
The role of print in my students’ lives

The assignment was simple: in a short statement, express what your current relationship is with print. These bright graduate students in journalism surprised me with their honesty.

After devoting 37 minutes to a discussion of the role of print in today’s mobile/digital media environment, I asked the Columbia University School of Journalism  students enrolled in my course, Multiplatform Design & Storytelling, to reflect on their relationship with print.

The assignments are in and I am not at all surprised with what I read.  I do not see any evidence of printed samples on the desks of these students. While we constantly talk about the news, the design of certain media brands, and how an event was covered, it is definitely all about journalism, but seldom using print editions as an example.

I have taken the students’ short essays and divided them into categories:

The guilt factor


I have often read about newspaper subscribers who cancel their subscriptions simply because they feel guilty seeing piles of newspapers that  go unread. It reflects on their lifestyle and their lack of time.  Several students repeated this theme:

“Last year I had a weekend-only print subscription to the New York Times as well as the Wall Street Journal. Those heavy bundles of newspaper packages would be left near the front door of my building….. It was only exciting for the first couple of weeks of delivery. Then, it became a burden. Finding enough leisure time to get through even the first section of the paper on the weekends was a challenge. Ultimately throwing the rest of the paper into the recycling bin made me feel ike my skills at speed reading were inadequate and like I failed to get the full value of the paper delivery.”

“(I subscribed to a print newspaper in college). After one week, the growing pile of Sueddeutsche Zeitung in my kitchen began to give me anxiety, a physical reminder that I did not do my duty to inform myself….I never subscribed to a print newspaper again. And, yet, I am always the first to hold passionate speeches about how iPads and Kindles will never replace newspapers, and books. Like many in my generation, I would be devastated to see print die, but,yet, I am not doing a whole lot to save it.”

The “print is not for me” factor

They are not ashamed to confess it, they simply do not come in touch with print. Period.

“To be honest, I don’t even remember the last time I read a newspaper…..To me, print has turned into more of a ritual type of reading experience instead of an everyday routine.”

“I have realized that I have not read a newspaper in print for two years. When did I switch from print to digital? I think it just happened.”

           “My relationship with print does not extend beyond fashion magazines.

“Newspapers feel boring and, honestly, there is too much content to read in one day, especially with the many distractions of technology. Newspapers are just not exciting enough.”

“My relationship with print quite literally hangs by a single thread, and that’s because I’m subscribed to the New Yorker and chose to receive their magazines in my mailbox (in addition to digital access of course). I always carry the latest copy in my bag, but due to my busy student schedule and my almost natural instinct to pull out my phone first, I sometimes miss out on full issues. That’s because I end up finding a new one in my mailbox before I read the one before, and no one likes to read old news when you’ve got a new magazine with a fancy cover and more up-to-date articles. “

The nostalgia factor

Several students reflected on the role that printed newspapers played in their lives growing up.  But that nostalgia does not seem strong enough to make them reach for a printed newspaper today.


“My relationship with print is a complex one. The printed word has inspired me to become a writer, and to see things in a much more vivid way than I think is possible convey using images. Growing up, fiction like Harry Potter allowed me to imagine a world much more intricate and magical than my own, and historical nonfiction enabled me to see the context of my life in India and make it so much more meaningful.”

“I read the comic column in a local newspaper in my hometown when I started to read and write in primary school…….Print is where I started and what made me dedicate myself to journalism….Print is still where we put most of our effort to build a brand.”

“I grew up in a home with daily subscription to the Danish daily Berlingske Tidende. Every morning before I went to school I would skim through the paper fighting with my three brothers for the sports section. I miss the daily routine of starting my day with a print newspaper. I like the way I have control over the physical newspaper and I am presented with the same news as everyone else who reads that paper, instead of news on my phone specifically targeted for me and my interests.”

The “touchy” factor

Oh, it is so nice to have something physical and tangible in your hands! But, while several students mentioned the physicality of print as a positive factor, it is also not a big enough attraction to make them subscribe.


“In a way, print has become one of the most concise ways to get news.

Because of its space restrictions, it allows the reader to get the most important news in one place.

“There is an audience for print. It is simpler. You don’t have to deal with multiple links, and popping ads, and click through slideshows of images. You don’t have to search for articles, it’s all there in the surface, whereas on line some stories are buried.”

“Among tons of tweets, photos, videos, and infinity timelines, how one can know what is really important? Reading printed issues is the moment when you can have less interference to be focused on what looks essential.”

“….print still survives and excels best as a “lean back” experience. Magazines work best in this format — whether large, glossy, carefully curated books, or smaller, more DIY and special interest magazines. I believe print media still holds an important place in our culture, and will continue to do so as long as there are audiences with special interests.”

Speaking Engagements Coming Up

I will be speaking at these events in the weeks ahead:

Webinar for Crowdynews: open to all

March 29, 9 a.m. EST

The brief: What trends should every publisher embrace in 2017? According to Dr. Mario Garcia, top-of-mind should include digital storytelling, email newsletters, and sponsored content.

Mario Garcia, world renown storyteller, editorial designer, and digital strategy consultant, will share practical steps news organizations can embrace to offset the disruptive forces rocking the news industry. During this 60-minute webinar, Mario will introduce a concept and then open the floor for a discussion on implementation and best practices sharing stories of those who are realizing success.”

In this webinar, Dr. Garcia will cover how to: 

1) Go where your readers are: mobile. How do you create a more visually compelling and interactive experience for your mobile users while facing the challenge of a smaller screen size?

2) Be the source of their news – starting with their inbox every morning. How do you create a personalised, informative, and indispensable newsletter for your audience? 

3) Serve your readers with high quality, non-obstructive ads or face ad blockers. How do you organize your newsroom to offer sponsored content while not compromising editorial integrity?

To register, go here:

VOZ Media Conference

April 6
Vienna, Austria

I will be the keynote speaker for this event, my presentation titled The important role of print in the digital age. This presentation presents a state of the media today, with emphasis on how we tell stories visually on mobile devices, the role of print and the importance of email newsletters and sponsored content to find new ways of promoting content and monetizing your operation.

For more information

TheMarioBlog post #2598



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