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The age-old debate: Is print dead?

01 Jan 11

Former print-editor-turned-blogger, Jeff Jarvis, and President of the National Geographic Society’s magazine group, John Griffin, faced off on the issue, weighing up whether or not print could soon become extinct.
Here are some of the highlights:
Jarvis: Print is not dead. Print is where words go to die. Too many of the ideas trapped on pages end up, at best, in unused archives or, at worst, in recyclers’ pulp, when they should be online: searchable, discoverable, linkable, part of the conversation.
Griffin: Actually, print is where words go to live – we’re still reading the ancient Greeks. On the other hand, I question the life span of blogs. Print is the perfect introduction to an informed debate and to the deep resources of the web. The words and pictures in print or on a magazine’s web site become the basis for searching, linking, talking and ranting for those with the time or inclination to do so. The web is the friend of print, not its killer.
Jarvis: Imagine you’re the New Orleans Times – Picayune and Katrina destroyed what made you special: your medium. What are you now? The paper fled to the internet to inform by any means possible, to gather news from every source available, and to bring people together with family and rescuers. It made connections.
The wild, wild west of the internet will evolve to more consolidation of the biggest brands at the top and an infinite number of tiny fragments at the bottom. The public will have neither the time nor interest to consider all of the options available to them – so the role of editor, both human and electronic, will increase in importance as people look for experts to help sift, validate and organise the infinite sources of content. In any case,
the need for information, entertainment and motivation will be as strong as ever.
Economic models will be as varied as media. Advertisers will still be trying to figure out how to buy effectively in this constantly changing world. Readers will expect information to come with little or no cost, so editorial budgets will be squeezed. People can buy as they choose, by article, or photo, or issue, or subscription, or with archive or bibliography.