Even Arthur Sulzberger Says Print is In The Toilet — Ummm Or The Deep Blue Sea

My niece recently graduated from UNC with a Journalism degree.  After spending a year in South America working and developing her Spanish language skills, she returned home in August to start the next stage of her life.  She’s unbelievably bright and a fantastic writer and, so far, can’t even get close to getting a job in her field. We have had long discussions about the state of the job market and the fact that journalism  is undergoing a seismic shift but that eventually things will settle down.  And, although the catch phrase seems to be “print is dying,” I have hesitated to spout this myself.titanic

Well, now I’m thinking this should be my motto.  After reading the trades and hearing the big dogs talk about print and how it’s in the crapper, I’m thinking my niece should definitely take print off her radar and only focus on TV and online.  And here’s why.

First, John Huey, the head of editorial operations at Time Inc., told the Wall Street Journal that Fortune was cutting the number of issues it published  from 25 to 18 per year in order to cut costs.  OK, good idea.  But what he said next is astounding!   According to the Journal, Hueys goes on to spout: “Consumers don’t care how often Fortune is published and many of them didn’t even know Fortune comes out every other week.” You gotta laugh. What was he thinking here?

I subscribe to two magazines — New York and Newsweek.  If they don’t come in my mailbox every Monday, I’m actually bummed.  They are part of my routine and I’ve come to count on them.  If one of Fortune’s top execs is actually questioning the value of the magazine to its consumers, hmmm, perhaps there’s a problem?

To add fuel to the fire, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Publisher of the New York Times, is quoted by Daily Intel (NYMag.com), as comparing print to the Titanic.  I kid you not. Here’s what he said when asked what advice he’d give to young people entering the journalism field and if he believed newspapers would maintain longevity.

The best analogy I can think of is — have you ever heard of the Titanic Fallacy?” he asked. …”What was the critical flaw to the Titanic?” …”Even if the Titanic came in safely to New York Harbor, it was still doomed,” he said. “Twelve years earlier, two brothers invented the airplane.”

So, Jules (my niece), this advice is for you and all your peers.  Stay away from the paper boats and shoot for the stars.  Keep your eye on emerging media platforms and companies who have assets to harness the power of digital.

Carpe diem…

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