Lynne D Johnson, Fastcompany.com
The survival of print is being threatened by the web; we all know this. To allow it to continue, print prices are going to have to go up - printed media will become a luxury of the privileged as printing and distribution costs continue to grow.
People have often blamed Google and other search engines as contributing to the death of print: by providing some of the original content to end users without forcing them to view the source site, then the number of views on advertising presented by the site is reduced, losing the site money. In addition to this, online classified ads have further hit revenue streams of printed media.
So what can be done? Journalists need to embrace new media: become bloggers, video bloggers and curators of information. So that their role becomes more about interpreting the many sources of data regarding a subject than just reporting the data directly. People want the respected opinion of respected people and the reason for this is clear: there is so much data available to people these days that there is a need for human filtration, to make sense of this.
John Snow is a brilliant example of a good journalist: he's been around for decades and his experience allows him to put appropriate, difficult questions to the people he interviews and then adapt his questioning to the responses of his guests. So where this is heading (in this author's opinion) is that end-users want informed opinions. They don't want to be spoon fed, but they want to be able to see a number of opinions in order to form their own.
One of the failures of online advertising is that whilst there are metrics to read how many people view advertisements, the reality is that people just ignore the ads.
So what does print need to do? Lynne speaks of the following points:
- Engagement: having users join group and networks, where they can share ideas on a common subject (for example, food or travel) where journalists meet users, gather their feedback and the publish it, directly creating user-generated content, which is the Holy Grail of the new information economy.
- New Revenue Streams: where giving one thing away allows you to hook users into paying for additional content - for example, one article in a series given away for free with later articles chargeable.
- Content Delivery Models: people have changed how they access media, for example in-game advertising is now becoming a popular source of revenue for game makers, as Burger King and other retail outlets can operate a franchise within games.
But in short, Lynne's speech didn't really give anything away. I was, in fact, a little dissapointed as I was hoping for something really extraordinary but the gems highlighted in this talk are not original - they've been spoken about frequently over the past year and the mystery of what print media can do still remains to be seen. I think they are going to have a tough time, personally, but as for what the future holds? Who knows?