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Printed Versus Electronic Press: and the Winner Is?

Undoubtedly, we are going through important changes in the area of printed media. We outline thoughts on how this will evolve and the impact on newspapers and magazines.

For the past five years we are becoming witnesses of a major shift; you may have noticed that your newspaper or magazine of choice has an online presence, i.e. a web site. You may also have noticed that much of the news that you will find in the printed version can also be found on the Web version-for free. If this is not scary, it is very impressive to say the least. Following the news you may have read or heard that some newspapers and magazines are finding it difficult to sustain their existing business models; the reason is that circulation is falling dramatically, especially in ages between 20-45 where people are more technologically savvy and Internet oriented.

Naturally the printed media could not just sit and watch. So, they started to build their online presence and expand it as time goes by. At present, we are becoming witnesses of a market segment that literally jumped online to exercise territoriality and claim their space in order to maintain their loyal readers at any cost.

There are issues unsolved: how do you justify Web investments when most of the revenue comes from subscriptions of the printed versions? what happens to the printed versions and their supporting background? how will technology evolve to assist in increasing readers and subscribers of the online version - free or not?

There are no easy answers; you cannot bring the revenue as in the good old times where the printed versions were counting millions of daily readers. Supporting a business model based on revenues coming from a Web site is not an easy task; advertising is much cheaper than it is on a printed version, so revenues are not as high anymore. The teams that support issuing of printed media will have to face the tragedy of shrinking in the foreseeable future, otherwise the debts will rise pretty fast. Technology is evolving rapidly but providing an experience similar to reading a printed magazine or newspaper is still far away.

Currently we are witnessing a situation where traditional printed media giants maintain both their printed and online status. Many of those left outside the race will have to decide pretty soon what to do - jump in, close, or be absorbed. Will kiosks become extinct? Of course not. It is just that soon we may see the proportions to change. Media will have to expand to all available new channels that spring up and utilize all new technology. But the printed magazine or newspaper will continue to exist although with all this free news buzz and blogging that takes place, the good old times may already have passed.

Konstantinos Papahatzis is a full time product manager in a major Telecommunications provider and also works at his leisure. He is the proud of owner of a Web site that collects reviews for those who wish to buy a USA Today subscription or want to know more about USA Today Newspaper: www.usatodaynewspaper.info

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