Game Over for Print?

Dark days for the press – my advice to a middle-aged reporter at

My friend and former colleague David Churbuck is sounding the death knell for print journalism. I disagree. As I commented on his blog, I agree with his point that print is not stable. But it’s not dead. What we’re seeing is the painful, bloody transition from mass communications to niche media. Print will be one of many channels, but never again will it drive the publishing business – the Web is assuming that perch.

Here’s will print will live: narrowcasting, with niche publications and custom magazines targeted at very small slices of customers, even smaller than the current trade model. The model has flipped – you certainly don’t want print driving your business strategy. But the game is not over. Publishers just need to finish shedding all the excess and redundancies that have built up over the last 20 years as they tried to bolt an online strategy onto an infrastructure that was not designed to support it.  Sure, there will be plenty of dead bodies along the way, but I’m not ready to put a fork in print just yet.


7 thoughts on “Game Over for Print?”

  1. There is a possibility that Chuck is correct, but not today.
    The only thing stopping the complete demise of print is the physical replacement for paper.

    When that happens (be it a virtual screen or what ever) the print industry will disappear.
    And the nich items will go to because speed of access is the next demand

    Just my two cents

  2. I’m not a journalist but I know a bunch, including a Pulitzer Prize winner who said to me over the weekend “I would not want to be getting in to the journalism field right now.” He said new hires must be “cross-media experts” and the incentives are more and more limited.
    I agree completely that shedding the fat will make print more nimble…it should be interesting.

  3. print will not go away anymore than radio died when television came around, anymore than people stopped going to the movies when vcrs hit the market.

    but i totally agree with the poster who said new hires need to be cross media experts. the print pubs that die will be the ones who didn’t adapt to the evolution.

  4. there are no magazines called ToasterWeek, ToasterWorld, or PVCWeek. And no one wants to buy Ziff Davis Media, according to the author of the moted story on IBM’s “imminent introduction of the PC2” and that “DOS 4.0 would be multitasking.”

    Meow for now!

  5. Jim, the demise of Ziff-Davis is attributable more to their directionless ownership over the last decade than to the generally poor state of tech pubishing.

    And I just filled out a subscription to ToasterWeek – have i been scammed???

  6. Rob,
    My cat subscribes to etosterweek and controls the purchasee decisions for just under one million of IT. Z-D’s problems begin and end with ruddderless management decisions based on conjecture-ridden projections. The interesting story is the fate of side cars (like at least one Japanese PC maker) slipstreaming this plunging bus over the cliff.
    There’s a bunch of 80’s marketing decisions doomed comma i believe comma by its locked dependency on Z-D.
    Oh the vaunted corporate PC manager was really little more than a purchasing agent.
    Curmudgeonly yours,
    Jim in Escondido

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