Among three vastly different case studies Tuesday on the future of print news media, Croatian publisher 24sata frames the centuries-old traditional content platform as a preferred medium of culture.
In contrast, Britain’s Guardian News & Media casts print as a medium of modernity — which, done right, attracts Millennials more than an aging readership.
Meanwhile, Norwegian mobile-first business newspaper Dagens Næringsliv characterises print as something to get done, laid out, off to the presses, and out of the way as fast and automatically as possible.
Ultimately, it might be most illuminating that in INMA’s two-day Media Innovation Week conference about all things innovative in news media, the spotlight turned on print just in the last session of the last day as the sun was receding outside the huge windows of the Hamburg hotel meeting hall.
“When we started BestBook in 2013, the time was not on our side. Print was going down,” said Goran Gavranovic, editor-in-chief of 24sata. “We decided to try to reach an audience that didn’t already consume 24sata and to reach them through culture.”
The printed monthly magazine seems to have accomplished that goal and has now expanded to include politics, science, society, and history, as well as book reviews.
“We have brought culture back to our audience,” Gavranovic said. “We also found a new audience. We have also brought culture back to the front pages and to other venues.”
The Guardian Weekly has been in publication since 1919. For most of the last half of the 20th Century and into the 21st, it was a half-broadsheet, newspaper-style product presenting the best of what had already appeared in the daily Guardian and its other sister publications.
“It was, what I’d say, cruising,” explained Guardian News & Media Publishing Director Mylene Sylvestre. “It was doing quite well, creating a nice profit margin for us... . But we had one problem with it, which was that the readership was aging. It was quite a dry and very serious newspaper. With an aging readership, we needed to rethink what a Guardian Weekly for the future would look like. We’ve got potential. We’ve got this really loyal base of print readers. But we need to remodernise it. What are we going to do with it?”
The answer, Sylvestre said, was to stick with print, but to convert to a glossy magazine format, with a design that strongly ties the Weekly into all that’s hip and exciting in media today.
“Covers are very important to us because the younger users we are acquiring are doing so much on mobile and through the Web site and social media,” Sylvestre said. “So they really need to be very striking. There’s a really big use of graphics and design and typographics.”
When it came to marketing the new Guardian Weekly, it’s print existence was put front and center.
“The five pillars of our marketing strategy are our biggest assets,” Sylvestre explained: “That it’s The Guardian, that it’s global, that it’s curated, that it’s weekly, and that it’s physical — that it’s reserved for those who want the physical experience. That is what print products offer.”
“For the last couple of decades, most printed newspapers have been created using some sort of desktop publishing technology,” said Espen Moe, sub-editor at Dagens Næringsliv. “Since May of this year we have been using a brand new technology without desktop publishing. Print Automation (as the system from Aptoma is called) uses Web technology to create print layout.”
And with that introduction, Moe launched into a slick demonstration for his audience of 200 INMA colleagues.
Once an article has been written, headlined, captioned, illustrated, and fully prepared for digital publication in the newspaper’s mobile-first content management system, “the automatic system kicks in and creates all possible layouts that this story matches, which might be hundreds of layouts,” Moe said.
At that point, Moe showed it is as a matter of drag-and-drop to place articles and have them automatically adjusted to fit the selected layout, and then to automatically integrate them into pages and complete publications ready for the press.
“We started with just a few pages in May,” Moe said. “Today use it for 23 pages out of 39. It is extremely time-efficient, then we can spend time on creating digital content of this story instead.”