By: E&P Staff
David Phillips | Bluff Country Newspaper Group
A group that I am involved in is looking into why people are dropping their memberships. Apparently, one of the reasons is that the group no longer provides a published newsletter. Instead, the contents of the newsletter are available through the group’s website.
As one former member contacted for feedback noted, the printed newsletter was one of the few benefits of value, the other being discounts. Although, this person liked feeling part of a larger whole through membership in the group, it still came down to concrete benefits that are perceived as real, or at least physical.
It makes me wonder if the plunge to all online conversion isn’t a bit premature, if not misguided. Yes, the web has great value in immediacy, search and finding particular information, but can it completely replace newspapers, magazines and newsletters?
A national retailer recently used its Facebook page to quiz customers on how they would best like to receive their weekly inserts. I would have assumed online would have been the predominant answer since the poll was posed to an online community. However, there was surprisingly strong support for continuing the insertion in newspapers. People liked the physical feel of the flyers and felt it was easier to view everything the store had to offer.
I know things will never be like they were prior to the Internet, but I also don’t think people should write off the print yet. There are many advantages to print publications.
However, if you don’t believe me, since I have an obvious bias with a newspaper background, perhaps some excerpts from this piece published by McSweeney’s will convince you. McSweeney’s is a literary journal started in 1998, which seems a bit ironic for a print based company since that year is well after the first warning signs of print were sounded.
The humorous piece, written by John Flowers, is entitled “After a thorough battery of tests, we now recommend ‘The Newspaper’ as the best e-reader on the market.” The piece starts with the declaration that for the past three weeks, its team of engineers has analyzed the most popular e-readers on the market in order to confer the annual “Editor’s Choice” Award. The engineers came to the conclusion that in the end, one e-reader stood out: The Newspaper.
“The most obvious advantage of The Newspaper was the size of its display, which outclassed its rivals both in terms of size and elasticity. The Newspaper display could be read at full size or, when flipped open, twice its normal width. We also had no trouble reading copy when the display was flipped to half or even quarter size. One of our engineers even figured out how to make a hat,” stated the piece.