Is Print Media Dead, Dying, or Drifting?

Posted: December 12th, 2012

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As technology evolves more and more quickly, we can only wonder if older media will soon go extinct. Some already believe “print is dead” while others feel that print just needs to evolve into something more. Social Driver’s Devon Hopkins had the opportunity to speak with J. Ford Huffman, a man of many talents – editor, designer, writer, and artist. Huffman offered some wonderful insight into the challenges print faces and how print has the ability to conquer them.

Photo by Lauren Tina Photography


Good Content + Convenience = Good Print

Huffman recalls his commute on the metro to the Social Driver office where he noticed a fair amount of people around him reading a daily express paper. This paper still holds value because it is free, convenient, and easy to read. If you consider a college campus, daily college newspapers are very popular with students for the same reasons.

Huffman states, “if you had good content and you're in the right place at the right time and the right market, people will look at you and read you.” He puts a lot of emphasis on content.

Huffman still receives print magazines in the mail and enjoys them. You can read the news on your iPad, but you can't quite snuggle up with your iPad like you can a good magazine. And you can't replace your iPad, in the same ways you can replace a lost newspaper.

Maybe others are thinking this way too. Personally, I do not own an iPad and, I  too, enjoy reading magazines while snuggled up on the couch. Huffman claims, “I think print has been asleep for a while … and that people are beginning to understand that you can have both and maybe you even need both.”

We Are Missing Opportunities To Further Enhance Our Content In Print

Huffman explains this as the real problem, as opposed to whether or not “print is dead.” If anything, Huffman argues that the “print is dead” comments should send strong warnings to content suppliers and newspapers that they are not providing the quality content that their market wants.

Huffman says, “if the reader spots a hole, a missing part of a story, that makes the whole ne

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wsroom look like it doesn't know it's content.. It needs the same content everywhere.” Readers should not spot a hole in any content at any time. Each news source must have someone with institutional knowledge to review the context before a crucial opportunity is missed.

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He adds, “If you print an awesome graphic in the newspaper.. do not miss your opportunity to add a reference to where readers can find it on the Web. If you have an intriguing article in the middle of the newspaper that has the potential to be popular.. do not miss your opportunity to reference that on the front cover.”

Huffman says we need to be alert to tie-ins and put all the same content on every platform, leaning towards responsive design.

The Print World Needs To Start Interacting With Digital And Emerging Technologies

Huffman claims that if he were working in a newsroom he would be looking at digital agencies and talking with digital agencies to learn from them and share with them. Both newsrooms and digital agencies are huge content producers and should be offering ideas to one another regarding how they produce content. He says, “we need to get over that fear that it's all competitive and we can't share information… we need to build on each other.”

We need to make connections and share. Huffman says, “I think there is room for both print and digital. The smart thing is to figure out what works best on different medium.”

We Should Enhance Our Creativity

Huffman thinks we should take the opportunity to learn how to utilize every form and platform of media. Exposing yourself or your business to new things just might do the trick. Learning from a magazine that you have no interest in, talking to a new person at a cocktail party instead of the usual few people.

By looking around and sharing with others, we can develop new content and have a better understanding of how to utilize it. After that, importance lies on the fact that high quality work is produced with correct spelling, information, timeliness, superior images, and great content.

No matter who it is for, we have to work hard and be careful with the information we are giving out.

So who is leading the space?

As far as leaders go in the space of integrating print and digital, Huffman says The Boston Globe has thus far got it covered. Social Driver agrees!

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So what do you think? Is print media dead, dying, or drifting?

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