What Dying Industry?For the past six months or so, the print industry has taken on some really hard hits. Several big city newspapers have almost become extinct, advertisers are in search of more innovative and interactive means of publicity, and a number of print magazines have migrated into digital formats.
While the snack and baking industry are faring quite well in this recession, some critics say the print media is dying.
As a print journalist, I guess you could say that it’s crazy to think otherwise. Take all of the above and combine it with the fact that readers, manufacturers and customers can now receive up-to-the-minute news by just logging into their Twitter accounts, and it’s enough to make any traditional journalist swivel out of their chair, taking their proverbial typewriter and legal-size pad of paper with them.
However, some veterans in the industry have provided an opposing viewpoint. What if magazines, newspapers and other printed media are just undergoing a makeover? What if the world of journalism is simply morphing into a life form of its own?
The future of this industry was just one of the many topics discussed at this year’s annual American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) workshop, which was held in Washington, D.C. The two-day seminar consisted of expert speakers who shared their trials and tribulations, and who have made a name for themselves by simply “going with the flow” of our industry’s transformations.
In fact, the event’s keynote speaker Bob Sacks says, “shift happens.”
A self-described “journalist, reporter and avid publishing futurist,” Sacks recommends that all print media personnel jump in feet first and face their fears of the unknown. He says that there is no known cure for addictive content regardless of its delivery method, and if you think predicting the future is hard, you should try ignoring it.
He also pleasantly reminded all of us in attendance that there can be a happy blend between print and the Web.
Why is this important for our readers, you ask? Why do bakers and snack producers care what print journalists are doing - or not doing?
For the past eight months, Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery magazine has been revamping its print and online products to cater to our readers’ needs. In fact, we have worked diligently to deliver a variety of content and news that varies from page to page, from online link to online link. And our marriage of print and Internet delivers a plethora of promotional choices targeting various demographics.
In a nutshell, if a feature or new product brief doesn’t make it into print, it gets posted on the web.
News is a commodity. For instance, if Kraft bought Kellogg tomorrow, it could take up to three weeks for you to read about it in any monthly magazine. So this particular item would get posted on our Web site and/or appear in our weekly e-newsletter. As a result, our print version will focus on feature stories and provide more in-depth problem-solving solutions, regardless of your title or job responsibilities within the plant.
That being said, there is never a limit to how your company’s or brand’s name can be shared.
Additionally, Sacks says, the future is going on right now. Every minute, the future becomes the past, and someone, somewhere is turning an age-old magazine into a digital edition, not because they have to, but because they can.
I may not be riding on all of the technologically advanced bandwagons myself, but I’m proud to be a print journalist in today’s day and age. While doctors and scientists are making breakthroughs in the medicine world, journalists are recreating the way people receive and share information.
Instead of curling up in a ball and hiding underneath our desks, those of us who cover the snack and baking industries are adapting to a world that is unpredictable, a bit scary, and certainly exciting.
Maybe the publishing world has hit an all-time low, but in the words of Roy Harris, ASBPE’s immediate past president and former editor of CFO magazine, when travelers are told to turn off all electronic devices on the plane, they can then turn on the magazine.
Us print journalists can get back into our swivel chairs and continue writing our blogs.
Print isn’t dying - it’s just becoming a life form of its own, and it’s taking us all for a very fun ride. Yes, even for bakers and snack producers.
Marina Mayer, managing editor