Seven reasons why print is not dead yet

Twenty years after the launch of internet computing, a period during which global web traffic has grown at an average of 425 per cent a year, on a planet with over one billion active personal computers and over four billion mobile phones and in which the quantity of information stored is due to double every five years by 2011, there are in fact more newspapers and magazines than ever before.

Print is the world’s largest advertising medium, over the past five years global circulation of newspapers and magazines has risen not fallen, consumer spending on magazines has increased 48 per cent in the past ten years, and on average one in 12 people on the planet buys a newspaper every day and one in three reads one — compared to one in four who have access to the internet.

2/ The widely accepted ‘replacement’ view of disruptive technology is a myth. From the earliest fertility rites to Jung’s death and resurrection archetypes, humanity seems to have derived a powerful tendency to link the new with the death of the old. In fact disruptive technologies are much more likely to co-exist with incumbent technologies than kill them. In 2008, Chintan Vaishnav of MIT published a study of innovations including organic LED, nano chips, open source software, online books, the Segway scooter, online shopping, YouTube and advertising on social networks.

The more he analysed what was going on, the more he found that innovators were invigorating the incumbents. How else would there now be over 20,000 brands of beer?

3/ Even when technologies are displaced (as per cassette tapes, film, crossbows and typewriters) humanity’s appetite for experience only ever grows. The Greeks thought writing would kill memory yet, far from killing memory, books have given us a whole lot more to remember. Marshall McLuhan reckoned that images would overpower words yet it has turned out that both visual and alphabetic cultures have flourished. It was assumed at various times that photography would replace painting, that recorded music would replace live performance, that film would replace theatre, that video would replace the cinema. But the experiences are different enough to survive alongside one another.

4/ Pixel and print are different experiences. Contemporary psychological research on reading is now endorsing common intuition. In her 2008 book Proust and the Squid, Maryanne Wolf, a professor of child development, argues that while on screen we skim and cherry-pick, in print we read “inferentially, analytically and critically”. Anne Mangen of Stavanger University in Norway, goes further. She has found that the paraphernalia of digital reading psychologically stops the brain creating its own virtual world, in the way that it does when absorbed in the physical page.

5/ Information overload is deeply corrosive. The problem, as Clay Shirky has said, is “filter failure”. The cost of digitial publishing is so low that anyone can do it. People have become their own filters, leading not only to anxiety about information gathering and interpretation but also to increasingly solipsistic states of ignorance about common bodies of knowledge. Print is a natural filter.

6/ In a world of frequently changing affiliations and relationships, in which the philosopher Charles Taylor describes “the loss of substance, the increasing thinness of ties and shallowness of the things we use,” political and community life is faltering. Print has historically been a major source of identity and an driver of civic engagement. Even reading a paper can be a political act. The Financial Times says a lot more about you than the lid of a Dell laptop.

7/ Print is already reinventing itself and flourishing in new ways. Here are some interesting examples:

i, the new daily news-magazine designed by Innovation. (Lisbon)

Niiu, a newspaper individually tailored to a subscriber from selections of their favourite correspondents and then delivered in print to the door. (Berlin)

Vendredi, a Friday magazine collated from the editors’ selection of the best they can find on the internet, much of it suggested by readers. (Paris)

Free Style Magazine, a 200 page art, fashion and lifestyle magazine designed in the shape of frisbee. (London)
the Blogpaper, a user-generated newspaper in which the articles are written, edited and selected by bloggers. (London)

Prediction: In ten years there will be more digital media, delivered in ways that we cannot yet imagine to devices that have not yet been dreamed of. There will also be more variety and choice of print media than there is today.

The next step is to present the information in a logical and cohesive manner. You will again find yourself in a tight spot because you will to maintain a flow of thoughts, ideas, and chapters to write a winning thesis. If you think you cannot take care of all these things, you will be better off letting our experts take control of everything.

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About Richard Addis

Richard Addis has edited two national newspapers, The Daily Express and The Globe and Mail, through periods of major change in two of the most competitive marketplaces in the world. He has also been deputy editor or executive/associate editor on The Daily Mail, The Sunday Telegraph, The Financial Times and The Evening Standard. His international experience includes working or consulting on newspapers in North America, Africa, India and the Middle East. He has experience at many levels of newspapers including editing, reporting, design and board level management. He is currently managing director of Shakeup Media.