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Should we go online all the way?

July 31, 2008
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You may have noticed that our most recent online poll is asking for your preferences—specifically, going forward, would you like the information you get from us to be online only, a mix of online and print, or print only? Needless to say, like every other traditional print medium in the world, we’re intensely interested in how our professional world is shaping up. Not only is Internet news and information here to stay, it is growing rapidly in both scope and audience. The question is, how does this fit with the print journalism world—or does it? Are the advantages of print—ease of access (flipping pages) and portability (no hardware) still important? Are these outweighed by the advantages of online (multi-media, interactive, vastly broadened access via links)? Or can and should they be made to work together? Since there is a limited timeframe for comments in our poll, responding to this blog is your opportunity to weigh in on the future (and LTL staff, you can sound off too!).




I think that, and according to some of my professors in journalism school, we will see what we call the print magazine format becoming digital itself. We are already seeing the beginnings of this with Amazon's Kindle e-book reader and HP creating paper-thin flexible screen technology.

I envision these technologies creating a foldable, touchscreen digital reader that the user places next to her computer at night. The next morning, she wakes up and The Washington Post, the latest David Sedaris book, and the latest issue of Long-Term Living has automatically been loaded to the reader. She can then fold it up and take it with her wherever she goes. Oh, and she can wirelessly share content with her colleague's readers.


Aside from the wonderful background on your father--who has me and many other people considerably beat in hours worked per week--I believe you raise an intrinsic truth about magazines: People will always want the tangible format.

While I am a supporter of the digital version, as it can allow for searchable navigation and easier information sharing, I'll never let go of my printed copies. A magazine, unlike a newspaper for instance, is an experience--one you can curl up with and enjoy at your own leisure. It becomes "personalized." That is why I doubt we'll ever see the death of the printed magazine.

My 78 year old father who built this nursing home still reads trade journals every week and doesn't want to learn computers. (He also still works 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. He'll tell you God only got one day off and we are no better.) You have an audience that wants the written word, on paper, don't leave them stranded.