Print or Digital? Why Not Both?

It isn’t breaking news to the journalism industry that there is a big problem with the way the traditional model of news (being a one-way street in terms of interaction) is not going to fly for today’s audience. With social media becoming the power house that it is, many reporters are finding that the digital space is just as impacting to an audience as a physical object to hold on to. But instead of choosing to focus on print or digital, why not embrace both? Finding the benefits of each and engaging your readership in a new way while taking them with you behind the scenes as you release a print product. This helps to build the brand of Hello, Mr., a magazine about men who date men.

Our guest speaker, Ryan Fitzgibbon, founded the magazine Hello, Mr. based on his own observations of media representation to the LGBTQ+ community. While he couldn’t put his finger on what exactly it was that was missing in this landscape at first, that didn’t stop him from thinking of a product that he could believe in. During his visit to our Social Media Tools class, he discussed how his relationship with Instagram has evolved. Instagram is one of the main ways Fitzgibbon chooses to engage the audience in a more creative and visual way prior to the release of the print magazine. From countdowns involving the writers, to giving out prizes and even a behind the scenes look into the magazine being made and printed, audience members can feel part of the process and feel pride in knowing what kind of print product they hold in their hands and where it came from. From these engagements on Instagram, as well as other social media sites including Facebook and Snapchat, he was able to build a business model where the digital funded the print, keeping both in a co-existent and symbiotic relationship with each other.

It also allows for a co-existent relationship with the readers, who feel they are being represented within the magazine. And even after publication, both the Hello Mr. Instagram account and Fitzgibbon’s personal account share their fans’ reactions online. It transcends the traditional one-way street and instead becomes a conversational hub surrounding the topic of the magazine. Fans have a voice and the magazine is not only listening in, but also creating a space for fans as well as writers, to interact, share their own stories and promote their own work. This nearly transforms the media brand to become a social community within itself, which is refreshing and inspirational to see.

I was moved by one of his final quotes that he heard before and shared with the class, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” I feel that this was a good reminder for myself and my classmates as we not only venture deeper into our selected communities for our master’s projects, but also as we decide where to go next in the grand scope of journalism.

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