Blog Posts: How Print Media Are Surviving in the Era of Digital Technologies

  1. Why are we still talking about print?

With so many technologies developed recently in the sphere of media (including stories in virtual reality from New York Times), it seems strange that the media discussion constantly returns to the question of print. It is interesting to know whether it will survive and how it will change.

The fact is that people still love paper. They love opening Sunday’s newspaper while having a late morning coffee. They love showing their incredible collection of National Geographic or New Yorker even if they have not read a half of the articles in there. They love thumbing gloss pages with a new photo session of Taylor Swift while gossiping about someone’s new girlfriend or boyfriend.

With so many apps for tablets and phones, 24/7 Internet access and huge amount of information falling on people’s heads, print media still gives an opportunity to focus on a couple of important (and verified) stories of the day. However, nobody knows how long will it last.

  1. What is the biggest threat for the print?

The answer is rather obvious: the Internet. The interesting part is how it influenced the media industry and how it continues its victorious march. In the 90s, the Internet started to take a shape of World Wide Web and spreading around the global audience. The first thing it did was changing not only the process but also the idea of media distribution. Now, one does not need paper to read the news or TV to watch them. In addition, the Internet enabled minimization of the costs of printing and distribution. In general, it showed that people can receive information without killing millions of trees every year for the paper.

Another significant aspect is the fact that the Internet gave an opportunity to millions of people to express their opinion on forums and blogs. Anyone can register a domain and start telling their personal truth, conducting propaganda or just creating fake news. The informational field is overloaded now, so people keep coming back to traditional media. The question is whether people still need the print.

  1. What does statistics say about print?

It is possible to either guess about the future of the print media or look at the statistics. The second option seems more reasonable. According to Pew Research Center, the circulation of the newspapers in 2014 decreased tremendously. At the same time, despite digital technologies, the majority of newspaper readers continue to buy print media. Magazines also face a complicated situation: in 2014 only, a few of them have reported the increase in subscription while the general newsstand sales of all magazines declined.

It is known that there are no print media that would not have a website. An interesting fact about magazine readers is that mobile online traffic exceeds desktop traffic. It means that print has to compete not that much with computers but with phones and tablets, which is  A hard competition.

Considering all the above mentioned, it can be said that print media are heading to the logical end. However, it is hardly possible that they will become extinct. Their circulation will decrease to the number of very loyal readers while the rest will go online.

  1. Why do advertisers still want print?

Advertising is the golden source of income for media, especially for print. It is hard to find a magazine or a newspaper with less than 40% of advertisements within the whole content space. In addition, media do not stop fighting for winning the best deals.

One may argue that print is outdated in this attitude and nobody would like to pay for an advertisement in a print issue with certain limited circulation rather than just posting a cheaper online ad that can be demonstrated hundreds of thousands of times. However, there is always someone who would.

According to the research of Toronto University, magazines, which have both printed issue and a website, have a chance to receive more money from the advertiser if they prioritize their audience. In such a way, they will have specific readers who will be able to receive advertisers’ information through more than one format. Scientists call such an audience “multihomers” and prove that it is much more appealing to advertisers. Thus, print is not lost.

  1. The History of Print Magazines in Digital Age (Part 1)

The history of magazines goes back to 18th century or even further. As the media, they have been challenged numerous times throughout the history, but the most significant change occurred with the invention of the Internet and its popularization in the 1990s. The Internet was believed to kill the print industry, but magazines began to adapt to new conditions and they still do now.

Before newspapers and magazines went online, their archives were produced on CD-Rom. In 1993, the first web browser Mosaic was created, which was one more step to digitalization of media. However, 1994 became a big web-year for the media industry. Wired created a new website:  Hot Wired. Daily Telegraph became the first national British online newspaper. Future Publishing established .Net magazine and Futurenet website. And we cannot miss the first web advertisement: it appeared on the Wired website. In 1995, five former reporters from San Francisco Examiner founded webzine Salon that never had a print issue. By 2014, it became the leading online magazine, with 12 million visitors monthly. In 1996, former New Republic editor Michael Kinsley founded Slate. Now, it is owned by Washington Post Company and is the main Salon’s competitor, with 15,8 million unique monthly visitors.

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  1. The History of Print Magazines in Digital Age (Part 2)

Since 1999, magazines with national circulation have started launching their websites dramatically. In 2001, women’s magazines were in the center of media attention. Condé Nast launched Glamour in innovative A5 format. National Magazines launched Cosmo Girl! and In Style. Cosmopolitan laid more emphasis on their branding by creating Cosmo-branded cafes. At the same time, it continued to launch international editions all over the word.

Time Inc. launched “world’s first men’s weekly” Nuts in 2004. Emap followed a couple of weeks later with “manly” Zoo. In general, in 2000s, big media companies continued expanding their media dominance on the international scale launching and relaunching new magazines even though the part of those were closing constantly, for instance, Maxim in 2009.

Trying to compete with the Internet, some magazines made an attempt to reinvent the idea of the magazine itself instead of just adapting the print version for the web. MSN’s Wonderwall uses a layout that is technically possible only for the online magazine.

  1. The Phenomena of Newsweek.

This magazine is an interesting case of how the print issue can be brought to life after a 2-year break. Newsweek’s first issue was printed in 1933. After 80 years of weekly publishing, the magazine went exquisitely online in 2012. After it had changed a couple of owners and finally found itself in the hands of IBT Media, it returned to print in March 2014. However, new owners have changed the concept of the magazine and the financial model dramatically. Now, it is very dependent on reader revenue. Newsweek expects 80 to 90 percent of revenue to come from readers and only 10 to 20 from advertisers. In addition, the price of the single copy was raised to $7.99 and digital paywall charges $39.99 per year. The magazine justifies it by the quality and exclusivity of the materials. They create the concept of luxury news. It implies that the reader receives not the only description of what is happening in the world but also a detailed explanation what it all means and what stands behind each major event.

  1. Why will New Yorker never die? Even in print.

The sarcastic animated covers of this magazine usually elicit a smile. Therefore, everyone prefers to buy it or to have a subscription.

The New Yorker is one of the most successful print magazines for today. The main reason of its success is the targeted audience: intellectuals with a large income. It is a great strategy as these readers are not only interested in the content of the good quality; they can also pay for it. In addition, they are always ready to buy a print just to show off with their collection among friends.

The New Yorker started as a weekly in 1925. With the development of digital technologies, it has used the Internet to publish current and archived material. Subscribers can access online the full current issue and a complete archive of back issues. The New Yorker’s cartoons are available for purchase online. More recently, the magazine released an iPad version. In 2014, the New Yorker had impressive single copy digital sales. They did not just grow, but grow to seven-in-ten of its single copy sales.

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  1. What is the future of print magazines?

There are many discussions regarding strategies that print magazines should adopt to be able to exist in the digital era. One opinion is that they can survive in two forms: super cheap for satisfying the temporary informational need (waiting in the line or flying in the plane) or serious minded publications that people usually collect in print format. On the other hand, the phenomenon called “mobile blindness” can distract people from what stands on shelves near checkout in the supermarkets. They are consumed by the content of their phones, and as a result, they simply don’t notice products around. According to the report of Business Insider, it leads to decrease in sales.

Considering the elite niche, Erwin Romulo, editor in chief of Esquire Philippines, emphasizes that readers want to consume the point of view. As a result, the magazine just has to produce good content (preferably found only in print) and “the rest will follow.”

Paul Willoughby, creative director of independent film magazine Little White Lies, considers the question of print’s surviving outdated: “People are always going to have their personal space, their flat or whatever, and they’re going to want to surround themselves with personal things.” This statement takes into account people’s psychology and can be considered an important argument in favor of print.

  1. The History of Newspapers in Digital Age

As it also happened to magazines, the 90s became the turning point in the history of newspapers. The early 1990s was the last decade when newspapers reached profit margins of 20- 25%. In 1995, finally the Internet turned from the secret military and scientists’ network to publicly accessible network a worldwide platform. It could reach out to more people than any newspaper had ever dreamed about. Profits margins if any, have fell by 5%.

Although at first, some of the newspapers did not want to see the changes brought by the Internet, very soon, they realized the truth: future of media is directly connected with it. Therefore, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Sunday Times, and the Washington Post launched their website in 1996. By the beginning of the 3rd millennium, they changed the media landscape and made the influence of new websites really noticeable.

In 2008, New York Times created an app for Apple and Android that was a direct lead to increasing mobile usage. However, newspapers still struggle with the monetization of their online platforms.

  1. How long will the New York Times be loyal to print?

Founded in 1851, The New York Times has been one of the most trusted and respectable newspapers in the USA and even in the world for decades. With so many challenges for print nowadays, it continues to publish the issue and at the same time is involved in the newest developments in the media sphere.

It must be admitted that such an example is a pleasant exception rather than a rule. In my opinion, the success of the New York Times is based on the brand they offer to the people: verified content, deep analytics, and breaking investigations. No matter what happens with other newspapers, people will be reading the New York Times as the last retreat for truth.

Nevertheless, the fate of print still remains unclear. First of all, at present, the large number of readers prefers paper issues because they are not good at technologies. Secondly, for some people, reading print is just a habit. At the same time, the number of downloaded apps and online subscriptions increases dramatically and poses a threat for the print even for this legendary newspaper. Most likely, it will also go online in 20 years keeping the same high journalism standards.

  1. After all, do newspapers still have any chances?

With all the statistics and all the examples, the answer is quite evident: in their present form – no. News in print is not in demand. Print overtakes other functions, and they all are mainly connected with magazines. Newspapers usually deliver information for one day and go to the rubbish bin. It does not seem reasonable if one can just open the website on a personal computer or an app on the phone and read the news anytime and anywhere. Furthermore, now it is possible to receive notifications from one’s favorite newspaper when something outstanding is happening.

Probably, in 20 years, people will not see a newspaper in print. However, it does not even closely mean that newspapers as media will disappear. For years, they have been the watchdogs of the society and the fourth power. Newspapers became the basis for the democracy since the first scandalous investigations in the 19th century, and they are an indispensible part of modern freedom of speech. The fact is that in future, news will be delivered digitally. Although the advertisers will become the main source of income, people will also get used to paywalls. The X and Z generations are not used to the paper, and this trend will be only more enforced.

  1. The recipe for survival in the digital era.

I still believe that magazines have print future, but there will be so few successful of them that other have to face the reality: they have to go online to survive. All the statistics that can be found about the mysterious rise in print sales resembles temporary anomaly (if even it is real). For a person working in media business, it is easy to count how much money one can save cutting print and distribution. Advertising revenue can be an option. Thus, it is necessary to increase the traffic on the website and advertising money will come.

It is important to realize that the Internet requires speed first of all. People do not wait till the next morning to read about new legislation of new war. They want you to tell it them immediately and not only tell but also emphasize, which of the events plays the biggest role.

Another secret for succeeding in the modern media space is using social networks to one’s advantage. There is no better way to involve new readers than coming into their life via their Facebook feed, especially when the content is not sponsored but liked or reposted by their friends.

  1. How to find a job in post-print era.

It is well known that thousands of journalists lost their job since the rise of Internet. This process appeared to be the most painful for reporters. When the information can be transmitted so quickly and so easily, newspapers have no need to in correspondents all arounf the world. They just need to make a couple of Google searchers and phone calls. It is also vital to admit the rise of citizen journalism. People post content without requiring any payment, and they usually become the main source of news in the hotspots. It is almost impossible to compete with citizen journalists in the speed, but the quality of information is another question.

Thus, it is questionable what people with journalism degree can do. If one wants to work in the media business, there are still some options. With so much information coming to newspapers and magazines, it is hard to know who to trust. For this reason, fact checkers are so important. If one knows how to use digital instruments to be able to prove the data, he or she is likely to find a good job.

One more thing is social media. They play a huge role in people’s lives, and traditional media cannot be blind about that. Learning SMM will be a very attractive point in your resume. In addition, this job is quite creative and directly connected with creating and adapting the content.

  1. Why do I want to have a magazine?

Even if print media is not in the best position now, I cannot get rid of the thought to start something on my own. By “something” I mean magazine. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, it sounds interesting. Secondly, it can really work just because numerous people are tired of traditional mainstream media and start looking for interesting alternatives. That is where indies come into action. The most important step is to find the niche audience. One can do it either geographically or by interest. For instance, I have recently read an article in the New Yorker about the persistence of literary magazines. On the other hand, if one chooses to go locally, it is a great opportunity to attract local advertisers.

If one wants to write or to own something with much fewer troubles, he or she can create a blog. Ultimately, the result can be rather surprising: Huffington Post turned out to be more than fine.