The obvious answer to this question is no. Of course not. In the United States alone, over 56 million newspapers are sold daily and over 60 million are sold every Sunday (Newspaper Association of America). However, since you opened this blog post, you’re probably interested in knowing more about the current state of the publishing industry.
At Visiolink Insights Day 2015, Dr Mario Garcia, an acclaimed media guru who works on more than 700 media projects a year, gave his insights to what the future of digital publishing holds. He specifically spoke about the industry in two terms. Then and now. In Garcia’s opinion, the publishing industry needs to be more agile to readers’ needs and start looking forward. First, let’s have look at the industry “then”.
The publishing industry – Then
The news cycle “back then” was significantly different from that of today. Before the internet, readers’ rituals for reading a printed newspaper were constrained to specific hours of the day, which was clearly reflected in the way editors ran their newspapers. The news ran to a schedule with newspapers hitting the kiosks early in the morning, so readers had their newspaper at the breakfast table. The news was available during the day at specific times, leaving the editor with plenty of time to plan tomorrow’s news. Back then, “technology limited the pace of how news travelled,” Garcia stated, whereas today news travels at boundless speed.
The publishing industry – Now
As with so many other industries, the industry was heavily impacted in the early 1990s when the internet arrived. During the last 25 years, various technologies have changed the way we consume news. Before the arrival of the internet, news consumption was generally contrained to media such as TV, radio, cinema, books, magazines and billboards. Today, media consumption has expanded to include a whole array of possibilities to read, listen to and watch the news.
Garcia especially mentions the media quintet: printed newspapers, computers, tablets, smartphones, and watches. Garcia is encouraging media houses to show that they are able to provide their content on all five platforms. “In five to ten years the printed newspaper will not exist from Monday to Friday, but be replaced with the digital newspaper. However, the printed version will have its glory in the weekends.” The audience is ready to receive content all the time and the media houses need to adapt to this fact and start publishing based on readers’ demands and not on what used to be. One way of doing so is by understanding the two news tempos: 24/7 and curated.
The two tempos: 24/7 and curated news
24/7 means a constant flow of information, whereas curated means edited and art-directed packages of news. The latter resembles the way media houses are used to working, leaving many with the challenge of accommodating readers’ demand for 24/7 news. “Readers want both the slow news and the fast news – you have to produce the ‘now’ news and the ‘then’ news at all times,” Garcia explained.
Curated news is the type of news that encourages people to take their time and to take off their shoes and relax, giving them a whole other experience than the 24/7 version. This curated tempo of news needs to be developed to fit elements of the media quintet other than the printed version.
So, the answer to the question “Are printed newspapers the publishing industry’s dinosaur?” is still no, but it seems that Dr Garcia gave the participants of Visiolink Insights Day 2015 food for thought on how to structure, distribute and not least earn money on making news in the future.
Why do readers like e-papers?
According to Garcia’s experience, it’s because:
- They are an interactive experience.
- They gives instant access to the latest news.
- They are similar to the printed version and there is an element of recognition.
- E-papers are the lean-back medium of the future.
In Garcia’s words: “Take the good product that you have and add extra value to it.” He especially believes that elements such as video, images, audio and links need to be a common part of news consumption and media houses need to give their readers these options. He mentions the Danish media house, Nordjyske, as an example: "It has an added component, which I love. It’s web TV, where you can get live coverage," and he continues by stating: "The e-papers that will be effective in the future will have something extra. And that 40% extra is digital, is web-TV, is something other than the experience of reading a printed newspaper. To me this is a winner."