Digital Vs. Traditional Publishing
Posted May 10, 2011on:
So digital has shaken up the publishing world. Major magazine’s have folded, newspapers are dying out, and journalists are scrambling to find something that resembles job security. But how, exactly, is digital different from traditional?
This is the question that has caused so many journalists and editors so many headaches. After all, the news and stories haven’t changed, right? Just the medium, right?
Well, not really. With a digital publication, the writers write and the editors make sure that what is written will appeal to the audience. In a way this hasn’t changed, but the relationship between the two has. Editors no longer have to rely on their own stable of authors. They can shop around. On the internet it is a very simple thing to link to another publication or to get permission from a freelancer to post his or her work (with payment, of course). And authors can get their work placed in a variety of websites and magazines. When I was working for the Phoenix Comicon I noticed a trend. More and more journalists didn’t say which magazine or newspaper they worked for. Rather they listed where their stories had appeared. I expect this trend will continue. Journalists turn freelance and editors become curators.
The traditional magazine or newspaper is also morphing. Before digital, magazines and newspapers each ran their own unique stories. No two articles were exactly the same and a battle existed to get exclusive content and be the first with a story. Now, even if you are first with a big story, it will be an hour or two before a competitor grabs it, too. Though getting a story first remains important, newspapers and magazines are now focusing on maintaining a consistency of topics and tone, according to Susan Currie Sivek in this article. They are becoming less a catalogue of content and more a brand where consumers can expect a to find the same presentation and general genre of content. The focus is shifting from the story to the brand. I’ll leave it to you to decide which is better.
Lastly, before the Internet, a newspaper’s circulation territory was only as big as it could profitably deliver its product. With the Internet, this is no longer true. This is the key reason why the Boston Globe was able to expose the Catholic Church to world wide criticism in 2002 when it covered the trial of a priest pedophile. Not all Bostonians really cared about the woes of Catholics. But Catholics around the world sure did. Because the Globe was now easily available world-wide to anyone who spoke English, the message could be easily shared. Before the internet, sharing was too difficult and the base circulation too small.
So the Internet has, indeed, changed publishing. The relationship between the people who make publishing happen, the role of branding, and even the audience have all changed. Some things remain the same. It’s still a message being sent from one to many. But a lot is different, thanks to digital technology.
*This post was written as part of an assignment for my
but since the topic was interesting, I decided to use it for this blog.