The Newspaper Cemetery
SummaryDespite all denials, newspapers all over the world are simply dying. The gravity of the problem is not that the competing media like TV or Internet are at play it’s rather that the public all over the world prefers moving pictures in the palms of their hands over deciphering or reading between the lines of nicely arranged words spread out on a paper blanket.
Despite all denials, newspapers all over the world are simply dying. The gravity of the problem is not that the competing media like TV or Internet are at play it’s rather that the public all over the world prefers moving pictures in the palms of their hands over deciphering or reading between the lines of nicely arranged words spread out on a paper blanket.
The Children of the Millennium
Historians will regard our current centuries as volatile, innovative and dynamic, yet the Paleontologist would agree that during the last millennium, we have hardly evolved at all. There goes all the IQ tests. As a result, we are still the same homo-sapiens, although erectus but still scared of the dark, carrying the same chains of emotions and fears, like babes in the woods, very cautiously we tread on this little planet. As children of this new millennium we now have new toys to play with, and some new buttons to push, while minds stay trapped in ancient behavior, responding to external stimuli with great caution.
The human mind naturally gravitates towards the easy flow of colorful moving pictures, where it likes to become a receptacle, while reading words forces the cerebrum to create imaginary moving pictures with its own logic, and exercise its own craft. But with regular watching, a kind of mental numbness takes over and the mind tries to go to sleep. Like watching very late night TV and getting out of body experiences.
Print-Society to Cyber-Society
If you are reading the newspaper today, then it is obviously yesterday’s news. The cumbersome process of cutting forests down all the way to print and distribute takes some many thousands of critical steps and this system perfected over a century is still too slow to feed the voracious appetite of the info-hungry creatures that walk the planet now. The sudden explosion of technology in the last few seconds on the clock of human evolution may appear to make us look suave over what we looked like a few minutes ago, but we are certainly trapped where we were hours ago. Where are you Darwin when we need you?
Sound Bite Culture
The short and crisp doses of sound bites have made us, around the world, a very well-informed and highly educated population, in sound-bites only. That’s it. The abbreviated versions of very complex issues demanding deeper and richer understandings are eliminated by short headlines, nicely arranged to fit cute small screens, as words are further corrupted and abbreviated to comply with this new lingo. Today the universe of text messaging is where the once-powerful print society of the last century was. Everything and all things are compressed into sound bites. The diversity and variety of trivial issues has taken over discussion and any chance for in-depth analysis.
Today’s youth is fully conversant about some 100 issues, as long no detailed explanations are required. This cursory knowledge incubates further fears and lack of confidence and also makes us gullible to any heavy bombardment of any strong and highly-repetitive message. The Orwellian model is passé, it’s more like the DigiSapians en masse preparing for our brains to shrink to the size of our fancy PDA’s. Miniaturization anyone?
The Surgery Table
Denials about the print medium will not cure the main problem. Like the much earlier resistance by the media barons for having absolutely nothing to do with websites to display their newspaper contents has already proven very wrong. Here are three surgical procedures. Oxygen please.
Cyber-Brand for Cyber-Society
Most newspaper corporations are convinced that by simply having a website with complicated layouts and complex graphics, they are deeply immersed into
e-commerce, and some flashy, jumpy website with a weird looking format and foot long silly twisted URL is a hip cyber-branding strategy in action. It’s really time to go back to school. The books that teach about cyber-branding are not published yet. An in-depth discovery of the real cyber-branding and the complex cyber-society is a prerequisite.
Re-Position for Re-Positioned Mind Share
Most formats are just copies of each other; the same news, and same formats are only repeated to death until the minds shut off. Reformat the contents and build a brand based on today’s realities and the pioneering old print society thinking. Re-train the organization to a mega cultural change. Mass merchandising concepts are fading to One-to-one, making advertising a very selective targeting process.
Re-Claimation of the Truth
Most newspapers have desperately tried to copy or simulate the other mediums and have failed big time. The fake sensationalization of breaking news or twisting truth in an attempt to get some attention, or acting hip and childish to attract the youth must be replaced by a solid, confident approach. The news is not a movie, and a movie is not the news. Chasing and accurately delivering the truth would be a good start.
100% Global Ownership
Most newspapers named after towns or generic names like The Ledger, Tribune, Journal, or Dailies are now lost in the web-jungle of thousands of similar names all over the world. Less than 1% of newsprint names are unique or worthy for global branding, while the rest are expensive luggage and going nowhere. Discover the Five Star Standard of Global name identities and also what makes an absolute 100% ownership of a brand to provide an umbrella and to park your future underneath.
The Winners & Losers
There are some very fine survivors of this fierce transition, the biggest pain came from the print media’s lingering in a state of denial. Now that the cat is out of the bag and the demise of print is an open subject the winners are the surgeon at the marketing strategy and editorial teams that are embracing the revolution as an opportunity and completely re-inventing themselves. The losers are the public, as they have replaced the communication of articulated printed words and elaborate concepts to flashy, but watered-down, moving pictures. The emerging and far away lands are still very dependent on newspapers but the explosion of mobile technologies spread faster than the sluggish delivery of newspapers.
Though in reality, newspapers will always stay some part of our lives, but will certainly not be the drivers of our morning agenda, and more likely become a weekly or monthly recap of in-depth analysis of serious matters, limited to the highlights of the day in soundbite format. There are new frontiers and new challenges to be embraced by new players. Let’s read more about them in the papers. But first the Breaking News on TV: The Democrat’s poodle bites the Republican’s hound, so the both owners jump in and bite each other…let’s watch the live footage and join the panel discussion.
Naseem Javed is recognized as a world authority on Corporate Image and Global Cyber-Branding. Author of Naming for Power , he introduced The Laws of Corporate Naming in the 80's and also founded ABC Namebank International www.abcnamebank.com a consultancy established in Toronto and New York a quarter century ago. Currently, Naseem is on a lecture tour in Asia and can be reached at email@example.com