Death of traditional media?

By , January 7, 2009

Another year, another forecast of the death of traditional media. “Digital guru” Clay Shirky says:

If you pick a magazine at random, it will not interest you. For people who care about quality, it’s easier to find it online. If it’s a highly qualified niche magazine, something aimed at surgeons or firefighters, it’s going online. There’s no reason those things should exist.

I don’t disagree that readership of newspapers is likely to decline further and like most people I certainly get most of my news online now. But there is one magazine that I really, really hope doesn’t go online only. Wired magazine has a website with a lot of the same content as the magazine (as well as extra stuff not suited to the magazine format) but I almost never visit the site. It’s not even in my feed reader. I always buy the magazine, though and not just because it is nicer to read long articles on paper than a screen. The graphic design of Wired provides almost as much pleasure as the articles themselves. The brilliant use of typography and graphics, the way the page numbers are styled in a way that relates to the article. All this stuff makes reading the physical object much more pleasurable than reading text on a screen.

As long as a magazine provides a compelling reason to buy the dead tree version there will still be a market for traditional media.

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