Good journalism, many would argue, is about getting information across using as few words as possible.
As statements about the future of journalism go, this one is one of the best I’ve seen, maybe ever:
“Print must not hinder our shift to digital, but we must cherish it while we choose to keep it.”
It was made by Katharine Viner, the new editor of the Guardian, and appeared in her statement to Guardian staff prepared ahead of an internal vote.
I stumbled across it in an article on the New York Times website and I think it sums up perfectly where we are, and what we should aspire to do.
For too long, change in journalism, especially at a regional level, was defined by ‘print v digital.’ I’ve heard people argue that the people who lost out when editors sought to protect print by stifling digital were the readers, but that’s not true. Readers didn’t lose out, they just went elsewhere. They began to fill time they may have spent reading out content reading stuff from other people.
The intentions of the people who tried to protect print were, in the main, noble. But also misguided. And while you can argue it’s easy to say that with hindsight, there are many who didn’t need hindsight to say it at the time
The only people who lost out in a print v digital world were journalists and the organisations they worked for. Essentially, the statement from Katharine Viner is an audience first one – looking at where the audience is greatest and focusing on it, while at the same time ensuring print readers get the best service possible.
I believe it’s entirely possible to cherish print while growing digital audiences. Digital platforms work best with an engaged audience, and the values and beliefs of a print brand provide a powerful platform to build those engaged audiences online. Likewise, print can be even better by looking at what works online and what clearly interests people.