Thursday, 18 December 2008

Turning the page on turnpages

So Detroit newspaper executives have announced a massive restructure - they're not the only ones!

Part of the restructure will see:
  • The Detroit Free Press (Gannett-owned) printed on Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
  • The Detroit News (MediaNews Group-owned) printed on Thursdays and Fridays.
  • A paid digital-replica subscription service on other days.
  • A paid thinner editions sold on newsstands on other days.
Phew ... but it's the "digital-replica" part which got me thinking. You can take a look at the Detroit Free Press version here.

Lots of news(paper) outlets put out e-editions of their print editions, but why?

There's a few reasons that I can think of, off the cuff.

The first is that e-editions are loved by advertising sales reps. What's easier than saying to a customer (advertiser - if you are one of these people who call readers 'customers') that their ad will appear online. Added value for the advertiser, surely. Well, not quite. How long will it be before advertisers start to ask just how effective e-edition advertising is?

The second is that it's fairly easy to do. Why not offer the online reader the chance to see the print edition in all its glory? But while they are getting the print edition online, they aren't getting the benefits of online - ie no interactivity, limited search capability, clunky interface.

And the third reason we use turnpage suites is because they are a comfortable bridge from print to a 'kind of digital' for people who haven't yet discovered the wonders of the web and all it can bring - that includes readers and staff members. Subs get to see their finely created pages online (design is indisputably something we need to see more of online), traditional 'print journalists' see something familiar on screen and the reader can access the pages of their favourite read anywhere in the world.

But the novelty soon wears off when they realise the web is better than that.

The Detroit titles have opted for an interesting interface for their e-edition, while my turnpage suite of choice is Issuu - yes that's right, it's free.

I have plans to upload back-dated editions of some of the titles currently under my remit, to create an archive of pre-web editions. But aside from creating a digital archive, I wonder just how long the newspaper industry will desperately cling on to this print/web hybrid safety blanket.

1 comment:

Lalalaura said...

Interestingly a friend of mine has just completed an MA in Electronic Communication and Web Publishing at UCL.

Her dissertation was set to be on this very subject, until she decided that the concept was obsolete beyond hope and ditched it - says it all re the future of e-editions.