“The news of my death has been greatly exaggerated”
~ Mark Twain
During this Covid-19 crisis, I have had some time to reflect on the state of LGBTQ+ media. As a publisher myself, I have always been aware of the increasing drumbeat announcing the imminent demise of print media from many in our industry, and perhaps to some extent, they’re right, but I think not.
Like many from my generation, I still love print publications; books, newspapers, and magazines, and I always will. I have grown accustomed to reading the news or articles on websites or through apps and I marvel at the ingenuity of it all, but, it’s not the same. There is something that is still “special” for me about reading content on the printed page.
Print media is changed and is changing, but it’s far from being dead. All you have to do is look around you and you can see new titles being launched every day. In the seatbacks of airplanes, on newsstands, and with new subscriptions, the heart of print media still beats. I myself still get publications in the mail from AARP, Airbnb, Aviation, and more and yet I still use their apps and other digital offerings, why? Because print matters. Consumers of content like me and many others still want the experience of reading print.
My iPad Pro has over 250 books in its library and each one is easy for my aging eyes to read with backlighting and the ability to increase the font; I can effortlessly turn the page with the swipe of my finger and it even makes a realistic swishing noise to simulate the turning of that page. I can carry all of my books within the 8x11x.23 inches of my portable digital library with ease and I can’t deny the convenience of having all of those literary works at my fingertips, but it’s not the same.
Whether I am reading a newspaper, magazine, or book, nothing can replace the familiar and comfortable feeling I get when I sit down and open a printed publication. The heft of the binding, the smell of ink on the paper, and the feel of the paper between my fingers as I flip the pages can never be replicated by its digital twin, regardless of what synthesized sounds it can make.
Our industry continues to evolve and change and those publishers who recognize that new technologies are not our adversaries, but rather our partners, will be the ones that continue publishing. If we continue to define our publications by the platform alone on which we publish, we will soon find ourselves staring at irrelevance. We need to change the way we have thought about publishing previously and instead start thinking more in terms of audience, content and the mission of the publication.
A recent study by Havas Media finds that a “younger demographic is “embracing traditional radio and print” during this pandemic; which if true, could have some interesting implications for those media coming out of the other side of this”. Understanding that, it’s too soon to know whether or not this trend will continue when things return to “normal,” but it does clearly demonstrate there is still room in the marketplace for print publishing.
It has been proven that in times of uncertainty, access to “TRUSTED” sources of information such as in this case, local LGBTQ+ publications becomes a critical need followed by other media sources that provide “distraction,” let readers “unwind” and offer “escapism” and/or “comfort.”
There is no doubt there will be a lot less of us (print publishers) when all is said and done, but for those publishers and publications that can evolve and change with the industry, I believe there will be a future, a bright future.
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