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The Changing Face of Print
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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The world has received some shocking news about the print industry in these past few months. First was the announcement in March 2012 that the Encyclopaedia Britannica will no longer produce printed editions. The company, which started in 1768, will cease being in print. That's a big deal. 

Second was the surprising announcement from Newsweek/Daily Beast that the weekly magazine Newsweek will disappear from the realm of print, and focus more on its online and digital offerings. Newsweek has been in print for nearly 80 years, and though these past recent years have been tough on the publication, the general public did not see this move coming.

Have all the marketing genies and advertising gurus been right all along? Is print dying?

No, it isn't dying. But print is certainly changing.

As you all already know, our consumption habits have changed dramatically since this information sources got started. First in the UK and later in the U.S, the Britannica was looked at the pinnacle for information. Newsweek helped with the U.S.'s (and later the world's) news digestion. It made news topical and appealing. It brought information, opinions, and photos to news in a way we didn't see before. These two information giants made it possible for the mass market to consume information easily.

And as we all have seen, the mass information approach is no longer effective.

Newsweek was battling against all the special interest and niche magazines and was losing. Why should a consumer pay for Newsweek, which contains general information, when they can pay for a magazine with a limited scope, filled with specific information that consumer is interested in? The same with Britannica; yes it is full of information, but why bumble through pages of information, using an index to find topics, when one can search online in a fraction of the time? Both are tough arguments to win.

In AdLand we have to monitor how consumers are using their time, and how they consume information. These recent happenings do not show that print is dying. No, but it does bring to light the importance of finding those specialized interest groups and niches. Our world is so fragmented now that, as messengers for the business community, we must be able to tailor messages to different audiences. 

If we cannot help our brands and agencies reach niche audiences, who are we to say that we'll avoid the same fate?

Online marketing and advertising is not the definitive answer to this question. People still read newspapers and magazines, and many reports have indicated that certain groups still rely and consumer information on radio. We (and the businesses we work with) cannot afford to take all media off the table, but we should be more critical of the channels we put on the table. 

Print is changing, but it remains to be seen if it will ever go away.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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