Media Magazine

Romancing the Newspaper

Posted on the 02 November 2012 by Themarioblog @garciainteract

This is the weekend edition of TheMarioBlog and will be updated as needed; the next blog post is Monday, November 5

Romancing the newspaper
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TAKEAWAY: There is nothing wrong with loving newspapers, and it does not mean you are behind the times or looking at life through a rearview mirror.  Perhaps, part of what newspapers need today is a little romancing. PLUS: Take a look at the new Huff Post Live app AND: Weekend reads

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Romance almost always provides for good conversation, sometimes fascinating, or titillating, or nostalgic, depending on your mood and/or station in life.

But, oh, romancing the newspaper, in whichever format, is never short of magical, depending on who you are talking to.  And, don’t assume that simply because you are inside the newsroom of a newspaper,  everyone there wants to hear the romancing of the newspaper.

Not these days anyway.

In some quarters, there are those who, far from romancing the newspaper, are already preparing the funeral, and there will be no yellow tulips on the casket.

Even more interesting, romance and espionage have been the subject of many fictional works and films.  Today, sometimes they also mix in newsrooms : the ones for whom the newspaper is still a red heart shaped item to hold and to cherish coexisting and working side by side with the ones who can’t wait for that printed artifact to disappear, get out of the way and allow everyone to concentrate on just the digital.

How is one to navigate in those turbulent waters of believers and non believers.

My formula for this is simple: I am romantic by nature, and, when it comes to newspapers, a super romantic. I insist that the printed newspaper is going to stay with us in some form, and that it is best when it is celebrated even as part of a Digital First strategy. 

It is, I repeat, a media quartet, with the printed newspaper as part of it, now and for years to come.

So, please don’t drag the printed paper along as if it was almost a lifeless corpse.  It is not a matter of resurrecting the newspapers (they are still here), but a matter of reinventing them, celebrating them and doing print happily, and not treating them as terminal patients.

While they reinvent, let’s make sure they preserve some of those things that made us fall in love with them to begin with.

These are a few of my favorite things

For example, I like the smell of ink on paper.  It transports me to when I fell in love with newspapers.

I cherish the sounds of the giant rotary press as it churns out today’s edition.

There is something special about stacks of newspapers ready to be delivered. 

I love to see bylines on paper, and not just mine (all my clips of stories past are clipped and pasted down, like old love letters).

I love to sit in the middle of the newsroom and feel the buzz of dozens of very romantic journalists making love to their computer screens and anticipating what the stories will look like when ink touches them and transports them to the page. And I also know that many in our audience love to romance their printed newspapers too, and not necessarily only those older than 70 years old.

I like to hear very young journalists I meet, who, while holding their iPhones and/or iPads in their hands, still tell you that there is no substitute for seeing their byline on a printed page—-so that mom, dad and grandma can feel proud of them. Bylines don’r sing on screens, but the rock on paper.

And, I am such a romantic about the newspaper, that I must be reminded sometimes, when in the middle of a newsroom, about the people in power for whom I should not romanticize the newspaper too much.  That is new. Once could always engage anyone in a newsroom—-in power or not—-with the pure romance of newspapering. Today, we do our preaching, but not necessarily to the choir.

How could one imagine that there could be a newsroom inhabited by a single person who did not romance newspapers, who did not get into this profession because they were forever smitten?

The no newspaper romantics in the newsroom

Today, that has changed.  One must be politically correct, and not align oneself too strongly with anyone platform. Keep those romantic urges towards the printed newspaper under wraps. It can count against you!

Today, at any given meeting within a news organization, you have those for whom romancing the newspaper is so 20 years ago.  I always wonder how they actually took a job that requires them to work inside a building that is, for all practical purposes, identified as a newspaper building.  But , indeed, here they are, planning the funeral for the printed newspaper in the same room where some of their colleagues are trying hard to reinvent the newspaper.  Paradoxical perhaps. Difficult to understand, for sure, but very real in some quarters.

Would there be any other business where these two groups could work
under the same roof even?

Readers of this blog know for a fact that, while I romance the newspaper, and always will, I also romance storytelling in any platform. However,  there is nothing like the romance of newspapering, and I am truly sorry for anyone working in our business who missed out on that whole notion of the newspaper as an object of romantic desire—the professional kind.

I am also very much a man tuned in to everything digital.  I have written my first digital book, iPad Design Lab: Storytelling in the Age of the Tablet.  I spend my days discussing tablets, online, and pop ups. I am converted to what is, and do it all with gusto and with a genuine sense that our craft has evolved nicely into digital storytelling, which I welcome and celebrate.

But I save my yellow tulips for the newspaper.  These tulips are in a crystal base in fresh water, not anywhere near a casket.

And, by the way, that has nothing to do with being a romantic, and everything to do with a firm believer that no platform kills another platform, and what we in this industry need to do as part of our reinvention is to see the role that each platform can play, romancing the story as the core of our profession, and making sure that each platform finds its place.

New from Huffington: Huff Post Live

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New and worth taking a look here.  In my view, a vibrant example of how storytelling can be enhanced dramatically via tablet apps.

Josh Klenert alerts us to this lively aggregator to the rest of the Huffington Post products.  In this case, a live streaming video network that uses stories from The Huffington Post as a jumping off point for conversations, in which viewers can also engage.

We designed this from the ground up for the iPad. It’s a great way to experience – and engage with—HuffPost Live.  Among the cool features is one that allows users who also have Apple TV to comment and follow conversations on their iPad while using AirPlay to “toss†the HuffPost Live video feed onto their TV screen. With this app, conversation & engagement is just as important as video consumption. I especially love the portrait mode where you dock the iPad and see the conversation stream by as you listen (real time pull quotes!).

What I like about this app is its elegance, simplicity and functionality. The video at the top left of the screen invites engagement. A navigator anticipates stories coming up, and it is easy for users to get involved with comments, which should make this app very popular among those who like to be a part of the action.

With provocative topics spun out of the Huff Post world, such as To Tatoo or Not, The Pain of Miscarriage and SIDS Still Kills, users will find a range of content from the serious to the silly.  They should not be lacking for comments. In fact, I am surprised to see comments for topics that are only announced as “coming upâ€, but users already engaged by just the mere mention of a topic.

The Coming Up navigator is constantly updated, so that viewers have a new video to watch and to respond to.

Another example of the tablet providing stories with longer legs, and the users with greater opportunities for interaction.

Go here:

Ready for the mini iPad

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Here is the ad as it appears in the print edition of the Sydney Morning Herald, promoting its tablet edition for the mini iPad

The award winning tablet edition of the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia is now ready for the mini iPad and the newspaper advertises the event.

Weekend reads

Will eye-tracking technology help save publishing?

The Economist takes a look at the Poynter EyeTrack Tablet study.


While it may sound like the stuff of science fiction, we now have technology that tracks our eye movements as we navigate the web or a mobile device. The technology knows where our eyes linger while reading a news article. Are we instantly pulled in by the article’s photograph – or by the headline? How long do we read a blog post before growing distracted?

Research reveals consumers will accept Internet paywalls if
media explains the need
First paragraph:

The pay-for-access policies adopted by The New York Times and many other media outlets will succeed only if consumers believe they’re justified by financial necessity, according to a new report from two social scientists.

Publishers: beware of the iPad mini


All we need is to be able to define the physical size of a box, a font, or whatever, and everything would work beautifully.

Tune in to Monocle 24 Radio: The Stack, Nov. 3

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The Stack airs Nov. 3 at 10 am, London time:  Monocle 24 Radio with, from left, Richard Spencer Powell, Tyler Brulé and I

I am honored to be a guest of Tyler Brulé in his Monocle 24 Radio show, The Stack, Saturday, Nov. 3 at 10 am, London time.  We discuss various magazines and will take a look at Newsweek and talk about its decision to stop the print edition in the US as of December 31.

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