Print journalists not ready to give up the battle
New application provides a link between traditional and new media that could satisfy increasingly fickle but news-hungry consumersNewspapers will never die out, some say, because they'll keep transforming to cope with changes. You might not agree if you look at the latest circulation and subscription figures, which grow more alarming each day across the print industry. Yet there are statistics that defy the doomsayers as well. "News" is attracting more eyeballs than ever before, so how can the key medium specialising in providing it be dying with a whimper?
If you are reading this holding a print issue of The Nation, check out an example of how print journalists are keeping up the fight. The "iSnap" feature allows you to point the camera on digital devices like tablets or mobile phones at logos placed on selected news items to get more content related to those items. The additional content is digitally created, giving you more photos, info-graphics and videos of key events. You read and see and watch. The long-form journalism - writing - is still there, but readers will be able to "see" "pictures that speak a thousand (more) words", such as the fugitive Kamnan Poh being caught in downtown Bangkok, a disallowed goal in football, or a politician's rant about reporters' "nonsense" questions.
Advertisers and marketing experts will also see a lot of opportunities. An iSnap logo in a conventional display ad in a newspaper can create countless possibilities. It can lead a viewer directly to an online restaurant or theatre reservation, or display more product samples. It can show a movie trailer, a video teaser of a concert, or how a world-renowned chef works in the kitchen of a new hotel. It can lead to games, registration forms and comments sections, serving as a major tool for customer relations.
Print reporters need a bridge between their conventional work and the digital world. Innovations like iSnap provide not just the crucial link but also a lifeline. People still love reading, but they also are getting more fascinated by digital content, which in some circumstances does indeed tell them more. The reader's wish is the reporter's command.
Maybe print journalists know the stories better than their broadcasting counterparts. On the other hand, the latter know better how to visually present the stories. This means that media organisations employing both types of journalists have a big advantage where consumers' satisfaction is concerned. This is also a reason why most print organisations are trying to get one foot in the broadcasting sphere.
The evolution will continue. And it is being greatly accelerated by the behaviour of social-media users. In fact, applications like iSnap came from a thorough study of what people do when they share messages and stories. We want to read, see and watch at the same time.
The iSnap application employs cloud computers to upload real-time multimedia content from the Nation Group's convergent newsroom - bypassing the incumbent websites - and is an advance on QR code, which has been slow in taking off. There is still room for iSnap improvement, but in a strange era when newspaper sales continue to drop and "e-newspapers" fail (including one conceived jointly by Rupert Murdoch and Steve Jobs), this application linking print and digital content seems to provide one of the more viable solutions.
Applications like iSnap can also be used on websites, giving fresh hope to the long-doubted idea of charging for some news content on the Internet. Online advertising will also adopt and adapt, playing to the tune of innovations. All this, hopefully, is helping to clear the mist that has been shrouding the media landscape for years.
Much depends on both consumers and print journalists. Consumers are aloof and yet understandably "spoiled" - the content always finds them, not the other way round. Whether consumers will embrace the innovations, therefore, relies on journalists' inventiveness. The newspapers have shown fight and tenacity, and now it's time to step up a gear and show how creative they can be.