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Is print dead? Part I

Is print dead? Part I

A seismic shift is underway in the world of publishing. The very foundations of an industry are being redefined in real time, reports Communicate magazine. Part I

July 27, 2009 9:05 by

The newspaper, just a little over a year old, has already branched out; it started off with a website, and even launched its own television program – Inside The National - in February. The half hour show is broadcast five days a week on Abu Dhabi TV, and looks at the headlines set to appear in the following day’s paper. As of last month, The National also launched a blogs section, with seven reporters blogging on topics including business and property.

“Certainly in the Arab world, blogs are a more risky proposition than in the West, in terms of political and social issues,” says Newland. “But you have to begin to adopt this move towards citizen journalism, so consumers have a little backhand talk with you, instead of a dead tree landing on their doorstep every morning, saying ‘take it or leave it’. You have to allow people to comment and to use your paper as a platform for their views as well. That’s coming. But how you monetize that at the moment, no one really knows yet.”

How to monetize online ventures doesn’t seem to be at the top of Jamil Mroue’s concerns; the editor-in-chief of Lebanon’s The Daily Star is more concerned with being relevant by going online, and doing it right. He says that even if they’re not getting money from their website, this is where their potential advertisers are reading them.

Mroue admits that while The Daily Star copy-pasted print content to the newspaper’s website for a long time, he is now aware that going digital requires its own “special way of thinking.” “In the last five years, this tsunami of culture and research and discoveries and this sea of change in attitudes have produced three things,” explains Mroue. “First, newsprint is becoming scarce and expensive. Second, culture is globalised, i.e. I am where I am in the world, but I am connected to where I want to be in the world. And third, the number of news products, gadgets like telephones, mobiles, portables etc., and the number of consumers today is exponentially different. So these three factors have reversed the story.”

The editor of the troubled Star says that print media has become a “headache” in terms of cost and delivery, and that he has started “retooling” by adjusting content, style and graphics to improve on their existing website. “Whereas the consumer was tolerant before, consumer expectations have become far more demanding in time, availability and access,” says Mroue.

First seen in Communicate magazine.

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