Dow Jones recently hosted a panel discussion presented by New York Women In Communications. The topic: Where is the print industry going?
The panel was moderated by Rebecca Blumenstein, deputy editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal, while the panelists included: Susan Schulz, editorial brand director, Cosmopolitan, Ana Maria Allessi, vice president, digital innovation & publisher of HarperAudio at HarperCollins and Julie Zhu, director of digital circulation marketing for Barron’s and MarketWatch.
The hour-long discussion touched on a myriad of topics, including branding, print vs. digital and the struggles of online advertising. Here, a few snippets from the conversation between three media heavyweights:
Allessi, on the evolution of eBooks: “eBooks are extremely popular. They continue to grow and be a huge percentage of units sold. But we have seen it start to level out. I would guess we’re all reading a little bit more. We have something to read in our pockets at all times now.”
Schulz, on Cosmopolitan‘s digital crossover: “The whole digital thing has really opened up an opportunity for [Cosmo], if we would just see it that way. There are still people that are nervous about it. I think it’s because we’re just at the beginning, we haven’t seen it all play out yet. There’s much more of a melding of this idea that you’re not a print editor or a web editor, you’re an editor.”
Zhu, on print vs. digital revenue: “I think that digital is very difficult to drive huge ad revenue dollars vs. print. The economic model is different. I think digital will comprise of a much higher revenue mix in the future, because that’s where the industry’s going. It’s just a migration period right now.”
Schulz, on the future of Cosmopolitan: “Cosmo is investing in the website and one of the main things those editors are charged to do is churn out content. I hate the word content because it sounds like gas, oil, coal. It’s that kind of commodity sounding word. At the end of the day, what we are is storytellers. Even if we tell it in a list, or a slideshow, or a pictorial. Where is the print industry going? We’re gonna be in print. We’re gonna be on tablets. We’re gonna be online.”
All three panelists were asked by Blumenstein about their personal preference — print or digital? Surprisingly, two out of three said print. Allessi said she’s recently gone back to hardcover books, whereas Schulz admitted to printing out links friend send her. Only Zhu claimed to be a digital person, explaining that she consumes news on her iPad (and was shopping on her iPhone that very morning!)
What do you think? Will the print industry survive? Or will digital cannibalize everything? Sound off in the comments below.