As this year begins, three notable reports share the same conclusion about the future of news: The path we are on is uncertain and debatable. But two of the three studies now see an extended economic shelf life for print, even as audiences swing digital and the search for viable digital news products continues.
Exhibit A: Earl Wilkinson, the globe-trotting executive director of the International News Media Association. A year ago, his speeches and annual summary report were focused on the difficulty of culture change at newspaper organizations and the need for faster digital innovation.This year’s outlook report, published in December, was subtitled “The Print + Digital Dynamic.”
Getting ready to board a plane to Karachi, Wilkinson described the new emphasis as a recalibration, not a reversal, of his digital evangelism. His email reads:
When the industry conversation was “print, print, print,” I simply suggested to publishers to put a little digital in their lives. If it was stated in a way to suggest that this meant print was dead, then that was a sin of omission on my part.
In a way, we are too obsessed about print vs. digital. It’s a science fiction discussion whose practicalities can be brought to earth with a few pin points in time. Will publishers be primarily print or digital in the year 2100? Silly question, digital. Will publishers be primarily print or digital in the year 2013? Silly question, print. For every publisher on this planet, the cross-over point from print to digital is sometime in the next 87 years. I would make big bets on this, and so would the vast majority of publishers – even in print-centric markets.