Open Thread: Would You Miss Print?


The news from the world of print has not been good this week: Newsweek is in trouble. The New York Times is running out of money. The Christian Science Monitor is killing its daily print edition. Anyone watching print media over the past few years knows that declining circulation and the flight of ad dollars to the web have left many newspapers and magazines reeling, and killed many others.

As web workers, of course, we get plenty of our news from the web. And there are those electronic media out there as well. And yet…I can’t help thinking of all the ways that printed information from periodicals has been useful in my own career. I learned a lot of coding skills from reading well-written articles, and I promoted my own services by writing articles.

Am I just stuck in the past, like those people who thought television would never catch on? Or is there still a niche in your world for the printed periodical and the daily dead-trees newspaper? If the decline of the print media industry continues, is there anything you’ll miss?



It was interesting to see the run on printed newspapers last Wednesday, Nov. 5. All of the newspaper boxes in my town were emptied of regional and national dailies by about 2 p.m. Apparently there’s something that printing out a Web site home page doesn’t satisfy – newspapers are a more static snapshot in time rather than a constantly changing information stream, so they feel more substantive when it comes to capturing historic moments.

I agree with Jeff that the industry is making all the wrong moves — cutting news staff instead of classified staff (classified should be moved to an online intake model with reverse-publishing into print), becoming more generic, failing to integrate user-generated content in a meaningful way for the most part. And they could play more with this idea of the continual stream (online) vs. the printable upshot/keepsake (print).

Robert S. Robbins

I cancelled my newspaper subscription and cable TV when they began to run puff pieces on waterboarding, arguing that being waterboarded isn’t so bad. The news media has no ethics or morality so I refuse to contribute to their financial viability. Only an idiot pays for state run propaganda.


The local newspaper is good for grocery ads, TV listings, and the local sports commentary. All of the regional/ nationals can be read online. Besides who has the lime to sit down & read a newspaper. I get the WSJ downloaded to my phone & listen on my way to work. With RSS, Podcasting, etc, who needs paper?


Of course I would miss print. The internet is incredible, but print is just so convenient. I can think of plenty of places that I can’t take my laptop but I can always have a newspaper or a magazine. Print is tradition and there will always be a market for it (just not as big of a market as it used to be).

The Style PA

I would definitely miss print. Being in the fashion arena I need to be able to flick through a magazine rather than have to view everything on a screen.

Nothing beats flicking through a magazine or newspaper on the train and I don’t have to worry about my dongle’s reception that way!


As a 23 year-old, I thrive online – however I still subscribe to the WSJ, Mens Health and BusinessWeek in print.

From my perspective, many of the local and regional newspapers are cutting the quality in a time when they need to be doing the opposite. The Washington Post and Boston Globe used to be favorites of mine, but now their coverage is thinner and more generic.

Even my local town paper has switched to running generic AP articles. For print publications to survive – and some will – they need to:
1) differentiate their publication; don’t run generic content.
2) establish a dynamic online component that gives readers a place to share content and continue the discussion.
3)Use user-generated content in combination with professional journalism (like CNN is doing with their iReport…someone needs to embrace this in print form)

And how do they get young readers hooked on print? Give them highly discounted / free subscriptions while they are in high school and college. That is how I got hooked to the WSJ, and now I’m a full-pay subscriber…


I still read two daily newspapers in print form and will sorely miss them if I’m forced to read everything online. I like having the online versions for sharing things I’ve read but I find I miss out on a lot of great stories when I’m browsing headlines online vs. paging through the print product.

Also, having worked on both the print and online sides of journalism, I can’t help but question the quality of content produced online. Maybe it will improve but I’ve only seen it get worse.

ED Small

Print and web have conditioned reading behaviour, I can’t see one replacing the other.

As web workers we have trained ourselves to read fast and furiously, we jump between pages constantly, we skim and skip and look at the important bits, we are usually reading while working, whether for work or pleasure we are rushing to complete something or rushing a little ‘online reading break’ to get back to work. Concentration levels are different (I won’t say better or worse, just different).

But who sits down at their computer for a ‘good read’?

Print forces you to think, read more methodically, perhaps slower. It’s 3-dimensional, it’s tactile. Whether we realize it or not, our body needs those qualities.

I personally get greater satistfaction from print than from online text. If I have a big work project, I have to print it out to get the best results, while smaller ones are fine done entirely through my screen- still 99% of my job. Reading for pleasure has to be done through print. It’s come to represent luxury of time.

I gave up newspaper subscriptions in order to rely on the web for my news, and I end up not reading anything for weeks on end depending on how busy I am, or only absorbing half the content when I do have a chance to skim the headlines before deciding which story to click. Unlike newspapers, where the content is all there before you, seducing you whether the headline appeals or not.

Woe betide the person who does not experience both.

Print won’t die.

Nick Clayton

As somebody who made a living as a print journalist for decades I now almost can’t wait for paper’s demise. It’s too painful watching it die.

Funnily enough I’m probably more used to getting news online than most. Long before the web, in a newspaper office we’d have access to all the wires. I’ve become accustomed to getting my news that way. I hardly ever buy a paper or magazine any more.

I do read books, but only until ereaders fall in price to a sensible level and their design improves. I don’t expect to wait long. It may be that there’s a need for a couple of sizes one for magazines etc and the other for books, but I would hope that they’ll be able to take advantage of the best of print and the best of connectivity.

Perhaps I’ve got too used to having almost instant access to music and news online. I’ve already sold most of my books and my vinyl collection. I’m looking forward to hearing about a new novel one evening and downloading it instantly to read in bed.


Consider the nature of my site and what I do for a living, yeah, I’d miss print A LOT! Hard to make gig posters virtual.

Lou S

I would miss print, yes. I took delivery of my Kindle in March and I love it for all my personal reading (novels, travel guides, even the newspaper I subscribe to.) But if it’s a technical book, give it to me in good old-fashioned paper so I can dogear the pages and highlight all the good parts!

Chris Ritke

I read everything online. Although I’ve scaled my subscriptions back like crazy. Or I’d go nuts.

Only exception: a good book. I just can’t snuggle up in my bed with a computer. The only other thing I need paper for is my notepad. Where I remember what I have (or want) to do. Ideas always seem to pop into my head when I’m away from my computer.


Print editions are important in low-income areas, where internet access is still as low as 50%. Frighteningly, this leaves many folks with only Fox News and CNN as their major source for news.

For web workers, I think it’s our responsibility to help close the digital divide.

Leonid Mamchenkov

I’m all for online, but there are a few areas of print, which I don’t see disappearing, at least for me, any time soon.

Firstly, books. Although I read a lot from the screen, I can’t handle a book. There are too many things happening on my screen at any given time, so I get distracted easily. Also, bookmarking is just not the same. When I bookmark a printed book and put it on the table – it’s just one book, one bookmark, and some real space. That’s easy to come back to. Bookmark in a digital book is often lost in a billion of other bookmarks, among a billion of other books, among a billion of other files. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s not the same.

Secondly, children print media. I have a kid, and he plays with computer already too. But there is something about colors, texture, and flexibility of the printed media that attracts him. Coloring, or re-drawing from, or even tearing apart a printed book is often much more fun than its digital alternative.

Gyorgy Fekete

Personally, I still like print media better than online.

For me it’s all about the feeling, when reading online news you sit on chair in front of a monitor, but with newspapers, magazines or even books is much better.

My eyes don’t get tired as much neither…


I’m a career newspaper journalist (sometimes editor). So, first of all, I’d miss having a livelihood.

Second, I already do miss print to a degree. Reading onscreen is too closely related to working onscreen. When I pick up a printed book, magazine or newspaper, my brain switches to a different mode. If it’s work related, I concentrate better reading print, if it’s not work related, I relax better.

I’m the kind of editor who still prints documents to proofread them. And I know for a fact my proofreading is far more accurate on a printed document than on a screen.


I find myself rarely reading print these days, but if print media died, somehow I think I would still miss it. It’s one of those “don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” things. Magazines and newspapers are going to remain in business; they will be smaller, but will survive.

Mike Gale

One of the benefits of print is that it’s hardish to do. Web publishing by contrast is easier. Result there is an unmanageable flood of web publishing. No way to filter it that satisfies me!!

On the other hand a lot of print gravitates to a lowest common denominator. To sell a lot it seems to assume the audience are morons. Unfortunately that seems to work. (Like it does in the broadcast media.) In contrast web content runs a wide range. True some assume you’re a moron but there are also those who push the envelope and actually think. In other words some web is better. Given a good enough filter the web can be better.

A danger is that web is easy to do and some blogging mindsets encourage frequent posting, rather than thorough work. A lot of print work is well researched, properly fact checked and actually gets copy edited.

Somewhere here there is a chance of a better world.


I love newspapers. I love my smallish town paper and I read the WSJ every day. I’d get the NYT, too, if I had the time to read it. There’s just something about relaxing with a newspaper for awhile each day that I enjoy.


I don’t think print will ever die-they’ve been calling for its demise since the late 90s, and it hasn’t happened yet.

Why? People simply enjoy the feel of an actual paper or magazine in their hands. And lets face it: no matter how advanced RSS feeds and the like get, you can’t take your laptop or BlackBerry into the tub.

Yes, many more publications will die-the ones who haven’t been able to adapt to a print/online duality. But the ones who figure it out will thrive.

Skip Knox

“Print” is too facile.

I get most of my news from feeds, and much of the rest of it from TV. But an important supplement is from magazines. The daily newspaper, which my wife insists on keeping, primarily provides the comics and the occasional local news item (I never get local news feeds) or novelty item. Oh, almost forgot: a big chunk of news from radio.

Sports news, by contrast, comes mainly from TV.

But I do all my literature reading from print. And print works really well for street signs. :-)

Print also works really well for writing, although cursive works better.


I get all of my news online now.

I think this news has big implications for the PR industry – we are continually trying to help our clients understand the importance of online articles vs. print.

Lloyd Alter

I write full time for a website but get 4 newspapers a day and a dozen magazines per month. It is amazing how often my eye catches something that would never come up in a search or an RSS reader. Also the ads are important sources. I am killing a lot of trees in the service of my career, but I will miss the big spread of newsprint when it is gone.


As odd as it seems, I’d miss some of the ads in my trade magazines. They tend to get removed in the online versions, and I’ve run across several interesting products or services that way. Sites like the former solved this by presenting an online version of the print magazine, in the same format as the print. A hybrid of this with clickable ads would be the best of both worlds.

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