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Would the Death of News Printing Benefit Commercial Printers?

Welcome to touchy-subject-land.

Every second piece of news about printing over the last couple of months has been about the death of print journalism – namely, newspapers, but also magazines, trade publications, and even the sacred BOOK. All this hubbub isn't unjustified. Just on Friday, Denver's oldest newspaper, The Rocky Mountain News, put out its last print edition.

However, there seems to be this assumption flying around in the subtext of all the talk that if newspapers die, the rest of the print industry is bound – nay, perhaps even obliged – to go down, like some sort of incidental Titanic string quartet, with the ship.

This is simply not the case.

The question, in my mind, is not how commercial printing will survive the death of newsprint, but, dare I say, how it stands benefit.

Intimations of these benefits are already appearing. Just yesterday, it was announced that The Daily News in Valencia, California, will quit printing, laying off print and production staff due to budget constraints. The Daily News, and other publications printed at the Valencia location, will now be outsourced to Gardena-based Southwest Offset Printing.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, we can expect to see more and more newspapers shutting down their presses and turning to commercial printers to cut costs.

How else can printers expect to benefit?

To being, while it seems obvious that a portion of ad budgets now spent in newspapers and magazines will transfer to the online publications, it's likely that some of that ad-spending will be rerouted to other forms of print advertising. It's even possible that more large advertisers will begin to publish their own news-style catalogues, magazines, and multi-page flyers. We're already seeing some of this, with big electronics stores printing news-sheet-style, full color flyers that allow for larger ads than can be viewed on the typical computer screen.

Next, the 'death of print' will inevitably be met with shock and outrage that will lead to private citizens desiring to engage in their own guerilla print journalism. More blogs will printed, and as people investigate and discover just how inexpensive printing can be, private citizen print journalism, published by inexpensive commercial printers, will become a mainstream trend.

Finally, many industries that have long relied on newsprint for their communication with consumers – I'm thinking of entertainment-based stuff like movie theatres, music venues, restaurants offering daily specials, and hey, even those that make our crossword puzzles – will need a new outlet not satisfied by the web. Sure, some of this stuff can be found online, but the system is far from perfect. How often have you gotten wrong movie times, inaccurate concert listings, and dated restaurant information from a shiftily maintained website?

Indeed, print is still a better source for accurate local information than the web. The industries that now rely on newsprint for this service would do well to reshape their offerings in the form of direct mail. What could have more charm than a daily flyer, delivered to your doorstep, advertising the days entertainment offerings in your area?

So there you have it, just a few ways that commercial printers stand to benefit from the extinction of newsprint. I know this all sounds a bit macabre, with commercial printers picking, vulture-like, over the corpse of the Fifth Estate, but the point I'm really trying to make is a positive one: if print news does go the way of the dinosaur, it does not have to be the end of print, but the beginning of a new era of expansion and creativity for commercial printers and small, private printing houses. Welcome to the future. Don't cry. Adapt.

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