JUNE 29, 2009
Last week we were treated to another obituary for print. This time from Steve Balmer of Microsoft. Once again, someone with authority put the death watch on the print news business. 5 years. 8 years. Wait I’ll set my oven timer. Okay enough. I have been spending the last 6 months (and much of it up late an night) worrying about print. Of course magazines and newspapers are the source of my livelihood. They are also the source of my connection to the world. True I am online a great deal. But nothing organizes, and crystallizes ideas like print. It is the linear nature of it that forces editorial decisions that make material work sequentially. That is its purpose. So how is something improved upon by killing it? No, the internet is a vigorous river that is exhilarating to move in. I love to blog and view and chat in blogs. I jump around through sites when I need to research anything, from a detail of policy or history or to find the name of an obscure actor in a B movie (Sonny Tufts?) Both have their purposes and important uses. And what’s wrong with that? Can they co-exist? Does anybody consider that? Are we so binary that we can’t accept what happened to all media when challenged with technology? They adapt! I believe print will adapt and thrive. Because finally mags are beautiful and a pleasure to hold in your hand and read. And yeah, look at the pictures. IT will only replace magazines when they can give that same pleasure. And, as a wise person I know likes to say, “It’s just not happening”. Elle is doing better than expected. The Economist is doing very well, even in a worldwide recession. The Hearst publications, Esquire, etc, are making money and holding onto their ad pages. So let’s take a deep breath and remember the predictions of the past. It never works out EXACTLY that way. Based on what I saw at the World’s Fair (1964) we are now in flying cars, living in domed cities and are talking on TV telephones. Well the Quik phone app has been brought out, so this may be here. But it comes as the result of the personal computer and cell phone revolution. A small detail the predictors, even into the ‘80’s, missed by a mile.