Well, maybe it's more accurate to say newspapers and magazines are alive and, according to experts speaking at a New York Advertising Week panel last week, they will be around for some time. Digital platforms are how they may be delivered, though, rather than via ink on paper.
It's a welcome contrast to all the gloom & doom predictions we keep hearing when it comes to print media.
The NY Advertising Week panel says the economic storm papers and magazines have been suffering under is starting to subside. That's not to say all is rosy for print, but it looks like their content will remain intact, even as it comes to us in a number of new ways.
Many of the companies who publish papers and magazines are still quite profitable and have developed huge online audiences -- in some cases, dwarfing their print circulation. Newspaper publishers are moving into hyper-local news coverage to compete with TV and cable. Some of the biggest newspaper companies including The New York Times, News Corp's Wall Street Journal and Gannett are experimenting with various forms of pay walls. Some papers are trying putting some content exclusively in print, while promoting it online, the way Gannett's Journal News, in New York's northern suburbs, recently did with a story on teacher salaries in the region.
But it's a real struggle for print media, as production and delivery costs rise and the news cycle is no longer a cycle, but is now a steady flow of information that is instantly and constantly updated.
Print can do some things, of course, that digital simply can't -- at least, not yet. The printed page can deliver dazzling, eye-catching spreads that showcase an advertiser's product in spectacular color. It can offer gatefolds, die-cuts, encapsulated scent strips and other special effects for which some advertisers will gladly pay good money. And the printed page can remain indefinitely.
Digital platforms certainly have benefits they can offer up to advertisers -- hyper-localization of ad messages, targeting based on readers' online behavioral history, motion, links, instant updates and more.
As technology continues to evolve, it may end up not being an either-or situation, but more of a side-by-side situation, where magazines and newspapers are defined more by their content than by how we end users ultimately view the information. We already have choices -- read a newspaper or magazine the traditional way on a printed page, or view it online on a computer, smartphone, Kindle reader or on your giant HDTV screen.
But whether you buy The Times at the newsstand, pick it up at your doorstep, or view it online -- it's still The Times, reported by Times reporters. The same can be or eventually will be said for magazine titles.
Some very smart minds are hard at work trying to figure out how to deliver quality news and feature content via the various platforms and make money at it. I have confidence that they'll get it figured out -- hopefully sooner rather than later -- so publishers can remain viable businesses that can support quality newsrooms and pay good writers and editors.
Part of the change may be that we find ourselves paying for content we now get free online. That may be the new reality, just as most of us now pay for another form of news and entertainment we traditionally got for free -- television.
One thing remains unchanged ... people still want news and feature information.
Time and technology won't change that.