Shailesh Prakash, chief information officer and vice president/digital product development at The Washington Post, doesn’t think news publishers have to throw away everything related to print to transition to digital.
Speaking at the INMA South Asia Media Festival, Prakash spoke about how the print history of news media can help in the digital present. There is a fear that all the bad habits learned in the print world can negatively effect digital, so publishers may feel they need to start completely from scratch, he said.
“I think that’s the wrong way to look at it. The right way to look at it is to take all the good that you learned in print, and then add your digital capabilities to that.”
As an example, he used the situation of when Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post company.
“He talked to us about building a new app,” Prakash said. “He told us that at Amazon, when they built the Kindle, they didn’t take the approach that the book is bad, so now we have to completely rethink what a book should look like in the digital age.
“Instead, they looked at the book and said, ‘We want to take everything that’s beautiful about a book and not lose any of that when we build the digital version of it.’”
When The Washington Post rebuilt its app, it considered the problem digital has with the concept of cognitive overhead or information overload. The digital version can have too much thrown at the reader.
“You lose the beauty of reading a beautiful newspaper,” Prakash said. “We tried our best to take the best of the newspaper to build our new app.”
There is an opportunity for learning that print and digital are not forces that should work against each other, he added: “You should not forget the beauty of print as you do the design for your digital because you lose something along the way.”