Shrödinger’s print industry
In the last issue of I wrote about how I believe there is still a place for print in our digital age. (Actually, I wrote: “there is still a pl for print”, thanks to an awkward editing glitch, but while that might carry a certain irony it’s beside the point.)
Claire Beale, global editor in chief, says the same ( using more complete words) on the previous page.
And at our recent Marketing to Millennials Breakfast Briefing ( see page 8), one of our panel of 20-somethings explained that even for a digital generation, traditional media still plays a role. “Any old dude can run Facebook ads; offline advertising lends legitimacy to a brand,” he said.
But look at our lead news story. Gulf News’s weekly tabloid has closed its print edition, and the publisher has had to lay off 18 editorial staff. That paints a different picture. I came to Dubai back in 2005 to work on the launch of
so I mourn its passing on a personal as well as a professional level. I remember going out to see which night clubs would let me – a white guy – in while rejecting my Indian colleagues, for a feature on racism at bars. And the paper published many more investigations and exposés in the years since. It’s a great sadness that such work will no longer be disseminated on paper.
And at the same Breakfast Briefing where that millennial said offline ads lend brands legitimacy, another panellist said she only reads magazines when she is waiting at a doctor’s surgery and has run out of mobile data.
So the status of print in an increasingly digital age is far from simple to understand. While I and other commentators like to sum things up in sweeping statements – Print is Dead; There Will Always Be a Place for Print; Digital is the Future... – in on-theground reality all of the above is true, and none of the above. Like Schrödinger’s cat, print is alive and dead at the same time. There are no easy answers and we will all have to watch and see and react nimbly to the waves of change as they crash over us.
I got an unambiguously good piece of print news recently, though. A couple of issues ago we put a picture in The Spin of a CV in the form of a paper fortune teller. We put it in because we thought it was interesting and clever and creative, and a nice, outside-the- box showcase of the skills of the art director who had made it.
And a major Dubai agency agreed with us. I got a call from the man behind the CV to tell me he had been called in for an interview after a chief creative officer of a major network agency had seen it on these pages, and now he has a job.
So a well- crafted piece of print, based on a good idea and a sound grasp of the medium did its job. Good.