The Death of Publishing?


Not so fast…

In the ever-changing world of publishing, it wasn’t too long ago that the media sages were predicting the death of print and that soon consumers would be switching entirely to digital media. Lately they’ve kept eerily quiet.

To lump magazines, weeklies and daily newspapers into the umbrella of publishing isn’t fair.

Readers like the magazine experience and they especially like it when they feel involved. You’d be surprised at the amount of reader feedback TCW regularly receives. It’s no secret that we’ve always depended on reader input for story ideas. Not too long after TCW was launched, Chicago magazine had a cover feature about the importance of networks and in writing about Today’s Chicago Woman, called our publication “a networking vehicle in print for working women.”

With newspapers it’s a different story, since their primary function is to report news and that old adage about “yesterday’s paper is today’s bird cage liner” still holds true. It’s easy for people who read newspapers to move online. I read both the Chicago Tribune and The New York Times online and do so around 5am every morning. It’s rare that the four newspapers I subscribe to arrive before 7am, and by then I’m on to other activities. By reading the Tribune online, I also get the added bonus of their digital magazine, which covers a variety of topics in-depth.

Clearly the economics of the publishing business have changed dramatically. Prior to the web, newspapers were the go-to place to hunt for a new job, sell a litter of cats, and explore travel destinations. Not anymore. And how bad has this economic freefall been for the dailies? Newspaper print advertising has fallen by over two-thirds since around 1998. Publishers have had to be highly innovative in order to stay in business. There is one bright economic factor, however, and that’s the fact that America’s well-respected newspapers are actually gaining readers, since the Internet is a really efficient, low-cost way to access newspaper articles globally.

The print publishing challenge, then, is to effectively and efficiently find a way to not only survive, but thrive. After all, not all newspapers will be as lucky as The Washington Post and hear the flapping wings of a Jeff Bezos ( founder/CEO) resulting in a purchase of the paper for $250 million.


About Sherren Leigh

Sherren Leigh is president and founder of Today's Chicago Woman and Today's Chicago Woman Foundation. She muses about life - the good, the bad, the ugly - and anything else that's on her mind in “Girl Talk.” Sometimes funny, other times serious, she's always thought-provoking and often controversial.