It was billed as #thelastprintissue. That was Newsweek’s cover in late December. The announcement came across as a mix of optimism and finality. Look at the last print issue of Newsweek and it seems like a New Orleans funeral. We were happy, we were sad, we played great music, and we now see something else on the horizon.
I found Newsweek’s “passing” fascinating. It might surprise you to hear this from a digital publishing evangelist, but I do believe that print and digital will live side-by-side. It’s never the death of one and the new life of another. Just as we called Internet media new media and now we call it all media, I believe at some point very soon publishing will be called publishing. It will no longer be divided into digital publishing and print publishing. It’s publishing. Content. I find it much more interesting. It’s the intersection of future and past.
What I observed with the Newsweek migration was a sense that this is the beginning rather than the end. I’m not sure that the scale involved for magazines like Newsweek is long for the future. But I look at all the large-scale magazines and I see the success that they are having and I have to believe that they have great audiences and great content. It meets at content.
What tips the balance? The balance will be tipped by brands. Brands will be the ones to decide that their lasting image in the print magazine is worth their focus and money. Brands will also decide that the flexibility and agility of digital publishing is worth their focus.
The other tipping point is content itself. The digital publishing platform very simply allows for niche interests at low overhead. We’re seeing more interesting content published and more specific niche-oriented interest addressed than ever before. I would argue that this is the golden age of publishing. Newsweek bye-bye. Daily Beast, hello. But understand that it is publishing and content. Discovery of that content that will drive this business. The content business. The publishing business.