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Will 'digital fatigue' revive print?

World News Publishing Focus

World News Publishing Focus
Your Guide to the Changing Media Landscape

Will 'digital fatigue' revive print?

Ruth Jamieson, author of "Print is dead, long live print", writes about independent, creatively led magazines popping up like mushrooms in the UK, and how they're shaping the future of print. "One reason is that it's really easy to publish your own magazine now," she told The Independent. Stack, an Independent magazine subscription service, has made smart use of this mini explosion by offering a monthly £5,50 subscription on the best magazines from all over the world, delivered to your doorstep. 

To put the revival in context: overall sales revenue for print magazines continues to decline, with news and current affairs titles most affected. Their sales revenue fell by 33.4 percent compared to last year.

Despite all of this, Rob Orchard, Co-Founder and Editorial Director of London-based slow journalism magazine, Delayed Gratification, is expecting a revival in print, because "people have become much more aware that digital is not brilliant, they're starting to fall out of love with their smartphones."

The International New York Times last weekend featured Tony Schwartz, President, Founder and CEO of The Energy Project on how we're all to a certain extent addicted to the internet, and that causes a cognitive overload.

"It's as if our brain has become a full cup of water and anything more poured into it starts to spill out," Tony Schwartz in New York Times.

Being "the last to break the news," the slow journalism philosophy is about taking time to do proper journalism. Delayed Gratification magazine comes out every three months, looking back at the big events with the benefit of hindsight. A good example of their concept is an article on the use of racial profiling by police in the US. This was written in the aftermath of the Ferguson unrest that started with the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, when most media already moved on to the next story.

Q&A with Rob Orchard, Co-founder & Editorial Director of Delayed Gratification Magazine.

Did print not die a couple of years ago?
People got back into print. When we launched, there were endless features saying it’s the death of print, we thought that was nonsense. In the UK, there has been an incredible flowering of independent mags, really two or three new publications launching in a week at times. People pay a decent amount of money for printed products again. Meanwhile a lot of the not very good print magazines have continued to come down, but the really good ones have maintained or increased their level of sales. 

But surely this is a niche market?
We have a massively broad range of readers. Some buy our magazine, because they love infographics, and for some we're even their main source of news, which is extraordinary as we only publish once every three months. We have a lot of news junkies, who switch on their phones to check the news first thing in the morning but who appreciate the opportunity to have a screen break once in a while. Sit back, and have a beautiful, printed publication, something a bit more considerate and nourishing. And yes, it is a niche. I think, probably, the future for a lot of media is in niches. Gathering interested audiences – not just a massive audience – who are prepared to pay what journalism costs. Journalism isn’t free.  

So how do you monetise the magazine?
You can fund good journalism on thousands, or tens of thousands of readers rather than hundred thousands or millions if you engage with them, if there is that level of interest. Instinctively, as a journalist, you’d probably much rather be read by ten thousand people that are really into the publication, than be just skipped over in ten, fifteen seconds on the way to the next link by two million. 



2015-12-01 14:21

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