Tempers are flying and hyperbole is rampant in the upper reaches of the publishing world. Nothing new here, but let’s take a closer look.
Mark Day at The Australian provides some good insights into the recent mud-slinging matches between News Corp and ABC, with partisan interests outweighing hard facts when discussing declining print circulation figures and how to handle them.
Intrigue and innuendo aside, the dispute does lay open the critical issue for print publishers: With print revenues declining, and digital revenues nowhere near able to close that gap left from print, how will print survive?
“For years conventional wisdom has decreed that publishers must develop digital versions of their products and make their brands available on all platforms so that consumers can choose,” writes Day. “This is part of the digital narrative — you’ve got to be everywhere, all the time.”
“News Corp management clearly has a different view — protect the publishing base by every means possible; play for time; test new approaches and technologies and pursue those that work,” Day continues.
“News Corp recently announced it would trial a digital ink-jet printing plant in Brisbane. These plants are relatively cheap and it may be that dozens of them could be scattered around the nation to produce small but highly personalised print runs,” says Day.
“The content of a paper could be localised and individual subscribers keen to maintain their print habit could nominate their areas of special interest so that each morning they would receive a personally tailored edition.”
We find a lot of encouragement in this kind of top-level adaptation. Consumer demands are changing, and technology is providing the way to meet those demands in print. Publishers adapt— or die — based on how well they can evolve to the new climate and utilize the new technology available to them.
“There’s no question that the print industry faces challenging times, but I wouldn’t be in any hurry to abandon it while it still earns the great majority of revenue for publishers.”
Regardless of who said it, and what side of the political fence you sit on, this makes sense. It’s time to look past the personal issues and really understand the incredible changes in print publishing we stand poised to embrace.