Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What is Future of Printed Media??

A Collaborative Blog Post:  Part Five

I remember in my “wonder years” that my dad read the newspaper every single day.  His routine was always the same; get up, make coffee, grab newspaper, drink coffee/read,  sit on the throne/continue reading (a guy thing), get ready for work, go to work.

reading-the-newspaper11Beginning in High school my day started to look like his, except of course I went to school, not to work.  As an adult, up until around three years ago, I started most of my days the same way as my dad had.  It was tradition … it felt good!

That has all changed now…. with the rapid emergence of social media and the Internet newspapers, for the most part have become irrelevant.  By the time a newspaper hits the street, the information contained in it is mostly obsolete.

Technology, including Smart Phones and news delivery channels such as Blogs, websites, RSS feeds, Twitter, Facebook and other types of social media now make it possible to learn about news in real-time.  If you fold into the mix the ecological pressure created by “Green Initiatives” one could reasonably argue things look pretty bleak for the future of printed materials.

So, in this fifth of five articles in a series created in a Google Wave, my colleagues and I will address the issue:

What is your opinion of the future of Printed media? (i.e. newspapers, magazines, etc.)

The following individuals have been my “partners in crime” for this series of articles:

This project would not have been possible without their contributions and collaboration.  Many thanks to each of you… you rock!


Now for our thoughts on this topic:

Ian McGonnigalIan — I think content of all kinds is going through an evolution.  Print media is a victim of this evolution.  Will print go away?  I don’t think so.  It will always have its place.  I’m still not comfortable bringing my Kindle to the beach. “The medium is the message” is less of a factor in this day and age.  But the role of content will always be prominent.  How content monetizes itself however will continue to change dramatically.

Midori –> Ian: Haha! You’re right Ian – I still love folding back the pages of a paperback and brushing sand out of the spine…or the smell of a new book. Equally love the feel of a new magazine and the way beautiful colors and images reveal themselves as you turn the pages.

Mike McAllenMike — I don’t see printed media going away.  Take a step into a Barnes and Noble and see how many magazines they have.  Seems every niche has a magazine or two.  People still like the tactile feeling of holding something and bringing your computer or kindle to the beach really isn’t very sexy. (unless your last name is McCurry)   Seriously, I think giving your content in as many ways as possible is the way of the future.

I can record a video interview share it on Youtube, rip the audio and share it through iTunes, then transcribe it and post it as a blog post.   I can then send it to an industry magazine (like my event solutions column) and have it in print, I can bring several of these transcripts into a book of interviews, that book can then be turned into a major motion picture.. So the future is definitely changing for content and how we consume it.

Jessica LevinJessica — Newspapers may have a limited shelf-life simply due to the speed at which we need and currently receive information.  I still enjoy reading a book (although, I might enjoy a Kindle).  I have stopped getting most paper versions of industry pubs because I find I have already read a lot of the information online. I’m not sure if we are really talking about “paper” versus a more portable delivery of information.

Samuel J. SmithSamuel — I think that we are going to continue to see more two-way media. If you take for example…  You can read the news, watch the news, comment on the news, rate the news and even create the news.  You can upload pictures, stories and videos.   I think that we are going to see more of this in the future.   Having said that – I still enjoy reading books. I read more than 15 this year and don’t have plans to slow down.

Cameron TothCameron — Paper is almost an outdated concept. That being said, I love my Time Magazine subscription and I just bought three books off of

I don’t think publications will go out of business if they are good at what they do, but the mediums are definitely changing. As soon as I have a tablet or Magazine substitute that is as satisfying as the printed paper version I will relish the opportunity to save trees and the company will love to save money on delivery, paper, manpower etc.  After all news people should be in the business of delivering news not the medium that it is printed on.

So, I am excited that in the future I will order my books and have them instantly. But, I will need something that I can read in the tub, car, doctor’s waiting room, airplane, bus, train, beach, park, etc. I don’t want to have to look for batteries, be afraid of electrocution, or be told by homeland security that reading my “paper” is a national security risk which is all too common when traveling internationally and trying to read some news on your smart phone.

Midori ConnollyMidori — Let’s not forget what the term media means: media is simply a delivery mechanism for information or data.  Choosing the medium for transmitting that information is dependent on your intended audience and overarching marketing plan.  Assuming that social media could eradicate any other form of media is a bit naive.

However, SM will surely impinge on the power and reach of traditional media. I expect it to steal just enough market share to force the owners to adapt their revenue models and evaluate how to capitalize on new mediums of delivery of the information they own (and they’re not going to give up their billion dollar kingdoms without a staunch fight I’m sure!).

Jeff HurtJeff — Disruptive innovation is forcing media, not just print, to redesign traditional business models. I think we’ll continue to see the rise of free information online and people willing to make micro-payments for exclusive, unique, more in-depth and rare content from media. I also think we’ll see the rise of localized media content sponsored by local business and customized for the reader.

Michelle BrunoMichelle — I believe print publications as an advertising medium are in trouble because they cannot duplicate the effectiveness of the measurement tools and metrics that online media can deliver. As for print content, It is already going away. Newspapers and magazines are dropping like flies because of all the reasons already stated. Consumers want their information fast, free, brief, relevant and uninterrupted. Newspapers come close, magazines don’t cut it. The Internet does it better.

Michael McCurryMcCurry — From my vantage point I see the newspaper companies shifting their focus from print to electronic news… effectively they are already doing this as most, if not all of them have web versions of their newspapers available.  As revenues (and therefore readership) continue to decline with printed media, these companies must create a different business model for operating or they will go out of business.  (This is already happening with some major companies either in bankruptcy or their doors are closed)

As Jeff pointed out the reality of disruptive innovation, combined with heightened sensitivity to ecological concerns is changing the way news is delivered right before our eyes.  With regard to books and magazines, I believe, in the short run they have staying power, because consumers do enjoy recreational reading in places where electronic reading is either not possible or impractical.  In the long run I believe some type of technology will emerge that will put the final nail in the coffin of printed media. (such as hologram type media)  That is probably not going to happen in my lifetime though!

What are your thoughts regarding the future of printed media?  Do you know of some new technology being researched that could change the way we view the news, magazines and books?  When do you think these changes will occur…. Do share with us!!!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Ashley Spitzer December 2, 2009 at 11:05 am

This is a topic near and dear to my heart and I am glad to hear your thoughts on it. (I studied print journalism in college, and cannot tell you how fortunate I am to have entered hospitality instead,. or I might be jobless!)

Just yesterday I heard USA Today is laying off roughly three dozen newsroom jobs. It’s clear print has been forced to make cuts, for all of the reasons mentioned above. As Mike and Jeff pointed out, I agree that print media will adapt new business models to combat the changes around us. I see this in the form of micro-payments, such as those the Wall Street Journal has in place. I think the success of print publications depends on their ability to adjust and adapt to new ways of presenting information.

As far as the actual print versions, I see lower circulation numbers continuing…and perhaps the inclusion of feature articles or interviews that cannot be found via online versions. Let’s not forget, only a tangible newspaper can be read on a plane during take off and landing.

I enjoy the immediate satisfaction internet news provides, but I think there is still a place for in-depth reporting, interviews and commentary. If print media does not adapt, many of the talented reporters and writers they currently employ will no longer be able to present us the internet versions we so much enjoy. I am not ready to rely on blogs and Twitter as my major news sources, and truly hope credible organizations will realize the dire need to gain profits from internet media.


Michael M McCurry CMP December 4, 2009 at 6:27 am

@Ashley Spitzer,

Great comments here and some good insight… Ashley you are right .. at this point ppl still need print media for situations like sitting on an airplane. That will remain true for now. I predict that at some time in the near future, some form of electronic media will replace newspapers as we know them today completely.

Think about this.. how bout reporters weighing in with their topics by Hologram… that technology is not far away I suspect.

At 53, I am clearly a boomer, and used to love my newspapers, magazines, and books. I love to read, period.

It will be interesting to see what changes in the media over the next five years… I think it is going to be dramtic!

Thanks for contributing!



Dave Lutz December 6, 2009 at 8:40 am

Mike, I saw this video this AM on Chris Brogan’s blog. It’s about a minute long and does is a great parody for the print industry.

Dave Lutz – @velchain


Michael M McCurry CMP December 6, 2009 at 9:01 am

@Dave Lutz,

HaHa, Dave that was great… enjoyed that video very much!!!

Thanks for sharing and appreciate the sense of humor on a Sunday morning.



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