What is the future of print journalism?
As more and more newspapers around the world feel the crunch of competition from the Internet, the big question is: what is going to happen to print? DW Akademie invited 11 newspaper managers and editors from countries as diverse as Kenya and Kyrgyzstan to Germany to explore ways of preparing and adapting their papers for a digital future. We asked some of them how they thought print journalism might evolve in the years to come. Here are their answers.
Raúl Peñaranda, Former Director, Página Siete, Bolivia
Newspapers will keep that name for centuries from now. But they won’t be distributed on paper. A more proper name would be “newstablets” or “newsmobiles”. But “papers” will remain. New technologies and the ever-growing number of people all over the world who have access to the Internet and to new mobile devices will make distributing the printed news unfeasible. It is more expensive, affects the environment and is not relevant to younger generations. What will certainly remain is journalism itself – the dissemination through the media of factual, well written, ethically crafted news that is relevant and put into context. So, the future of print is bright – as bright as the screen of whichever device will present the news.
Alina Radu, Director, Ziarul de Garda, Moldova
“It is difficult to say. But there is definitely a future. We journalists working for independent media in Moldova have faced a variety of threats, have been sued and have to go to court every single week to explain again and again why we wrote a certain story about corruption, human trafficking, abuse of public money or the violation of human rights. And after all of this, we now face a new challenge related to print media. All these years we have managed to continue our investigative work at the Ziarul de Garda newspaper in Moldova and I don’t doubt that we have more work to do and more ideas to keep us going. Yes, Moldovans have today more Internet devices than flush toilets and Moldova is among the countries with the fastest Internet in the region. But this doesn’t mean print newspapers will disappear any time soon. Maybe more of them will go online but at the moment we still have high levels of corruption, high poverty rates, lack of transparency and poor respect for human rights. This means there will always be teams of restless reporters who will keep newspapers and journalism going for the sake of democracy.”
“Peter Okong’o, Deputy Managing Editor, The Standard, Kenya
Tomorrow’s newsroom will be fully integrated. Online, print, TV and radio will be together with a converged news desk at the center of the newsroom with editors, sub-editors and reporters all sitting together. The Standard in Nairobi, Kenya has already adopted this model and its working fine!”
Murtaza Solangi, Former Managing Director, Media Times and former Director General, Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation
“The newspaper of the future might not be on paper but it will continue to retain the tradition of comprehensive reporting and analysis. It will, however, combine new features such as archives, “editability” and interactivity as well as incorporating audio, video and pictures. Although newspapers of the future might have some sections dedicated to breaking stories and updates, primarily they will provide in-depth stories and more analysis.”
Kenneth Ashigbey, Managing Director & Editor-In-Chief
Graphic Communications Group, Ghana
“The future will require newspaper people to do things differently. It will require the use of a great deal of audience insight and a shift from the “readers’ perspective” to the “audience’s perspective”. It will require redefining the business that we are in from a “newspaper business” to a “content provision business”. Newspaper will have to provide audiences with more than just information, education and entertainment. They will have to become a tool that people live their lives with. This will require an integrated and converged newsroom and management. Also, journalists will no longer be simply print journalist but rather multimedia journalists who produce content for multiple platforms. The future will require telling the day-two-stories better and going beyond reporting the news to producing compelling and exclusive well-researched stories, including investigative stories, which are told with the audience at the center.”
Luz María Helguero, Publisher, El Tiempo de Piura, Peru
“We believe that the future of print is electronic which is why we are trying try to improve our online presence. At the same time, we also have to consider that our printed newspapers may still have a decade or more of life left in them. We believe that the closeness of local newspapers to their local communities is an advantage that we should not lose regardless of the platform we use. This has lead to a total reassessment of our organization so when our newspaper turns 100, we can accompany our readers in the twenty-first century. The rationale of a newspaper – to provide information that society needs for the benefit of those who make up the society- is part of the DNA of our daily paper and this will continue to be our focus.”
Nikola Tomić, Deputy Editor in chief, DANAS, Serbia
“The future of print media is vague and uncertain but its fate isn’t yet decided. Print media will exist as long as the people who want to read them and that’s not such a short period. However, the market is volatile with advertisers switching to online and readers increasingly using digital devices. The survival of print media during these changes depends on their ability to adapt to new global circumstances. Digital forms of content placement and the diversification of business activities should be two main future directions for print media. Also, of the greatest importance is much more active convergence with readers. We need to move out of the “ivory tower” of newsrooms and editorial boards and interact dynamically with the community. But insisting on high-quality journalism must remain at the core of everything. Regardless of the economic crisis, all activities of print media must be based on providing the best possible, highly professional, journalistic and editorial content.”
Aleksandr Tuzov, Deputy Chief Editor, Vechernii Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
“I believe the future of print journalism is strongly dependent upon the younger generation being interested. In this regard, the example set by the German publication Die Welt in developing a youth publication Die Welt Kompakt is quite significant. Advertisers will also maintain interest in print media since in some countries with developing e-media like Kyrgyzstan, print ads still guarantee higher financial gains.”
Tangeni Amupadhi, Editor, The Namibian, Namibia
“The advent of the Internet may have made it easy for people to get information but it has made it difficult to find quality information. That’s where journalism comes in. More people will become more reliant on journalists to help them figure out what is important and how much of the information they need to interpret to make decisions about their everyday live. Mass news media will be replaced by boutique journalism. I think it will be journalism that pays well because the readers would value the info highly as opposed to what social networks and similar avenues will do. Pity though the newspaper [emphasis on paper] will be hard to find.”
For the Future of Print Journalism workshop, DW Akademie invited newspaper editors from Bolivia, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Namibia, Pakistan, Peru, Serbia and Uganda. The editors also visited the newsrooms of several leading German newspapers to learn about their editorial strategies for the future. Click here for more information about the workshop.
Project team: Oliver Schilling (Project Coordinator), Jutta vom Hofe (Trainer and Project Manager), Peter Berger (Principal Trainer), Patrick Hashingola (Project Assistant)
Authors: Steffen Leidel/Kate Hairsine