Embracing a Parallel Universe
As the publisher of America's oldest e-newsletter, I've been involved in online journalism for about 13 years. Before that, I had a very traditional career working at newspapers, magazines, printers and even a stint at a local radio station.
I can't tell you how often I've been asked if I think printed publications will eventually be replaced by digital media delivery. The quick answer is "No." Digital will not be replacing print. Not in the near future anyway. But it will work side by side for a while, and woe to any publisher that doesn't embrace the concept of a parallel universe.
Now let's talk about the changes that printed products will have to make to survive. Tomorrow's newspapers will be very different from what the newsboys throw on the lawns of America today. Yes, the newspaper of tomorrow will be more like magazines, with less emphasis on the current instant news cycle and more on the lifecycle of the unique locality. They must make this transition to survive as a printed product. Newspapers can, will and must have the details of yesterday's news events.
Newspapers will "suffer" from their inability to have "current" events. Anything in print must be deemed as yesterday's news. The future of newspapers, if there is one, has been redefined by the Internet and the predictable development of EL-CID (electronically coordinated information distribution.) But newspapers can have an important dual role in the information cycle. That would be releasing breaking news in a digital format and backing it up with the details following in print.
Will the newspaper of the future be known for breaking hot news events? No. That analog, printed process can no longer be distributed quickly enough in a digital, online, all-the-time world. Today, the newspapers are starting to bring the print editorial and the Web-based operations into the same war room. That is the key to survival for them, combining the various strengths into one very effective information distribution unit.