Blog-o-kvetch

A blog about new media and it’s role in IMC.

The demise of print?

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This week in class, we were asked to examine the effect of new media on other mediums in IMC, and which elements we thought would become obsolete.

Unsurprisingly, for me at least, newspapers were a popular topic of discussion. I was one of several in class who lamented the decline of advertising in print publications. Many newspapers in the U.S. are currently experiencing a severe downturn in advertising revenue, which has been compounded not only by new media elements like Craigslist, but also the economic crisis.

An essay by the recently-deceased former editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, John Walter, proclaims that newspapers are dying. Walter goes on to blame three people for this demise: a man who wrote a column about the decline of multiple-newspaper towns, design directors, and Al Neuharth, the former head of Gannett Inc. It’s an interesting essay, but I don’t think it addresses the reason that advertisers have fled. (You can read the essay here.)

In “The Vanishing Newspaper,” Phillip Meyer hypothesizes that newsprint will finally collapse in America in the year 2043. The book was written nearly five years ago, yet it seems like eons. In the last three months alone, the newspaper industry has shed thousands of jobs and the Rocky Mountain News has shut down. 2043 seems way too late for the death of newsprint. I think at this point, 2015 would not be too wild of a guess.

A few years ago a couple of interns at the Poynter Institute produced this first video, Epic 2014, positing that Google and Amazon.com would kill newspapers. It scared the hell out of me and many others in the newspaper industry. A year later, they followed up with Epic 2015, seen below. Now, what seemed likely in 2004 and 2005 is outdated as well. For example, the first video talks about the potential of Friendster; Facebook had barely made a dent back then in the social networking world. It just goes to show how quickly the new media landscape shifts.

Something in the EPIC videos stands out to me: when Reason Magazine sent all of its subscribers custom tailored issues. Although a print publication, this obviously took a lot of time and resources. However, with technology and programs like Google Earth, it is a lot easier now to selectively target an audience, in real time. Perhaps that is why newspapers are going out of vogue the fastest: they are not targeted demographically or psychographically, but geographically, and can not be updated quickly. Interaction is also slow; a letter to the editor takes days to show up in the newspaper, whereas feedback is much more instantaneous on the Web.

Because IMC is most effective when a healthy, interactive relationship exists between customer and seller, it’s obvious to me why newspapers, which are the worst at both interactivity and relationships, are finding themselves quickly becoming passe.

Written by fsk50a

March 29, 2009 at 12:43 am

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