As print news and books succumb to the instant gratification and experiential capabilities of digital formats and delivery, it’s becoming increasingly clear that though format and delivery are critical to the success of media in a 3.0 world, story remains the most important ingredient. In fact, format and delivery are part of the story now, which is why we’re seeing an increase in experimentation from online serials to subscription services, longer short form pieces to the 3-D slipcover of Chang-rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea.
Print news giants like Newsweek and the New York Times have been feeling the pressure to compete with digital outlets for the last decade. Newsweek ultimately migrated to an all digital format in 2012. The Times submitted to a self-imposed innovation audit complete with a report packed with recommendations and anxieties related to keeping up with the internet news cycle. And the Washington Post Company sold their struggling flagship paper to Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos (“in a personal capacity and not on behalf of Amazon the company“).
Bezos told Charlie Rose,”Don[ald E. Graham, Jr, former Chairman and CEO of The Washington Post Company] thought that because the newspaper business is being so disrupted by the internet that someone who had a lot of internet knowledge and technology knowledge could actually be helpful.” And under Bezos’ yearlong leadership, the paper has made a series of changes that have expanded its digital experience and reach, including hiring Frederick J. Ryan Jr., one of the founders of political news website Politico.com, as the Washington Post‘s new publisher.
But even as digital trends, new reports show that students and readers retain more when they consume print media. In an interesting twist, the digital publisher IBT Media announced plans to put Newsweek back in print. Ironically, writer Brad Stone notes that Bezos has mandated meeting presenters at Amazon pass out print documents that outline the topic being discussed.
Print is not dying, per se, nor is digital killing it. Per se. Story consumption is just changing. However people choose to engage a piece of writing, the story, rather than the format or delivery, remains queen.