Print Is Not Dead, But the Struggle Is Real

Photo: Olga Khvostunova

There has been so many prophets (turned out to be false) who had been announcing the death of print over the last century. First, they got it wrong with the invention of radio, then — with television, and finally with the emergence of the internet and the disruptive digital technologies. Yes, lots of media outlets were forced into oblivion, others decided to transform into digital-only (The Independent, for example, has recently become the first national paper in UK to embrace the digital-only format). A few years ago, we observed the overwhelming success of digital-first and mobile-first outlets (the phenomena of Quartz, Buzzfeed, and Vox Media are the most telling case-studies). The latest ‘horror story’ is that social media giants, like Facebook, might just squeeze conventional media out from their habitat.

I’ve been following media trends for years as a professional journalist and have been studying media and communications as a Ph.D candidate and researcher, only to conclude that, despite the dire prophecies, print is not going to extinct. The latest podcast at Re/Code in which Peter Kafka interviews David Remnick rather proves the point.

Remnick who has been New Yorker’s editor-in-chief for 17 years explains the point of producing a magazine in 2016. He says, that even though New Yorker’s website has gone up to 60 million uniques a month, the print has not dipped, because print to many people (myself included) is still a good technology. And the proof is when you get on a train to Brooklyn where demographics is somewhat younger, there are endless numbers of young people reading the print issue of The New Yorker. Part of the story is that it’s a magazine you want to be seen with. It’s part of your image as a young, sophisticated New Yorker who rather enjoys an occasional intellectual longread coming to the city from Bushwick.

For me it’s more of an esthetic pleasure: it feels nice to turn pages, look at an occasional cartoon, have the magazine folded and stuck in the bag with lunchbox and then read it with coffee (even have inevitable coffee stains as a result) — all this makes you appriciate the time and effort invested into the product. And I know I’m not the only one who shares the sentiment — it’s only human nature.

So no, print is not dead. But I will watch how it evolves, transforms, develops and makes its ways in the new market condition. And will update you guys on how the story goes.