Yes, print staff can (and should) be rock stars, too

By Gerold Riedmann


Bregenz and Vienna, Austria


Do you know this scenario from your own company: There is the fascinating, always-changing, super-exciting digital world … and then there is print. It doesn’t matter how hard you’ve tried to integrate your newsrooms, you’ll still stumble across print DNA — and it’s good DNA!

However, it’s your digital team members who win awards and speak at conferences. They are strong at adopting to new developments. They are somewhat younger, more agile, and, from time to time, they might seem even more attractive. Sure, there are awards on the print side as well, but they are not so new, not so exciting.

Let’s be very clear about this: In too many media companies around the globe, it’s only the digital people who are the rock stars.

Be honest. Newspaper journalists never were rock stars in the sense that TV journalists were. And your digital product people are different from your legacy company culture.

Now is the time to rethink.

German newspapers have started to check their teams to see what percentage of their journalists are stage-savvy (and how many need to be trained). At Vorarlberger Nachrichten, we are educating even experienced newspaper journalists to make a stage feel like their home, and we are all building a culture where digital is cool and a fun space in which to work.

But, as you’re seeing at news brands like The Washington Post, it can be very cool to work for companies that started their journey in print as well.

Over here, we’ve established specialised, separated teams both on our digital portals like VOL.AT and on our paid-for flagship brand, the newspaper. The transition moves at different speeds, and the readers are not the same either. VOL.AT develops into a live, video-driven mobile news channel. enjoys being the edition-based newspaper that comes with more and more digital value, like videos that enrich print features or original documents making our reporting more transparent.

Readers adopt to it; 10% of our circulation is delivered digitally. For Austria, that’s a top position, and looking to Scandinavian markets makes you confident there is potential.

Be it print or digital, you need great teams with creative (self-)confidence, success stories, and achievements on both sides. Innovation is not only possible in print, it’s absolutely necessary there, because bundling a Facebook ad to a print ad is not the only innovation that’s possible, and, well, it’s no innovation at all.

Pop-up newspapers like the United Kingdom’s post-Brexit project The New European are heading nominations for the British Media Awards. The New European has long outgrown its initial grace-period of four editions and is a posterchild project for local publisher Archant and its editorial mastermind Matt Kelly.

BILDs new soccer newspaper, FußballBILD, in Germany is a new daily vertical paper product in a very horizontal newspaper world, with content coming from its main daily product tailored for soccer fans.

The upcoming INMA Global Awards will show how innovative print can be. Because sharing ideas is at INMAs core, everybody’s happy and proud to tell you more about their projects.

The underlying principle was born in Silicon Valley and is very digital. Be creative, try to build prototypes fast, and test them. If they work, build on the initial success. That’s true for digital, and it’s very true for print as well.

Our journalism needs to be more than the written word. Journalism lives in words, pictures, and infographics, but it lives as well in interactive storytelling formats, as live-stream on Facebook, as an Instagram story, or on a stage in your city. We need to see a journalist not as a writer but as an expert for a specific topic — a specialist who writes articles, promotes his opinion on Facebook or on a TV show, and tweets about it.

About Gerold Riedmann

By continuing to browse or by clicking “ACCEPT,” you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance your site experience. To learn more about how we use cookies, please see our privacy policy.