If print is dead . . .

Author: Alecia Pirulis

If print is dead, then my mailman is delivering from the afterlife.

OK, so admittedly I’m writing about a topic that many would say I’m hard-pressed to be objective about, given that I’ve been a media executive for most of my career, many of those years focused on print media. And admittedly, it’s difficult to be objective when you’ve been in the business a long time and have witnessed the advent of the world wide web, the rise of multi-family ILS’s (including our own), and are intimately familiar with the overwhelming statistical evidence to date that – in fact — print and internet media work hand-in-hand much more effectively than the internet alone.

But aside from the fact that my very-much-alive mailman delivers no fewer than 5 printed catalogs a day to my mailbox, there are many different opinions within our industry about the future of print as a medium for reaching apartment shoppers. That was exceptionally apparent in the recent twitter chat hosted by Lisa Trosien and Mike Whaling (#AptChat, every Friday on twitter at 4pm Eastern). The subject was “Is Print Dead?” and the tweets were fast and furious, the viewpoints diverse; and it’s what got me thinking about this blog article and taking the conversation out of our industry point of view and into a more global arena. Because one thing’s for sure . . . this debate is happening everywhere.

Fast Company printed an article on the subject recently that is one of the best I’ve read, and definitely worth checking out. A blogger and magazine editor “square off” over the question, “Is Print Doomed?”


Following are some notable excerpts (you guess who’s the blogger and who’s the magazine exec) . . .

Resolved: Print is Dead

Jarvis: Print is not dead. Print is where words go to die.

Too many of the ideas trapped on pages end up, at best, in unused archives, or, at worst, in recyclers’ pulp, when they should be online: searchable, discoverable, linkable, part of the conversation.

Griffin: Actually, print is where words go to live – we’re still reading the ancient Greeks. On the other hand, I question the life span of blogs.

Print is the perfect introduction to an informed debate and to the deep resources of the web. The words and pictures in print or on a magazine’s web site become the basis for searching, linking, talking and ranting for those with the time or inclination to do so. The web is the friend of print, not its killer.

Interesting perspectives, no? And interestingly, I agree with both of them. Looking forward, media continues to change, and inexorably will continue to evolve in ways we can’t even begin to imagine – not to embrace the best of the innovations is to diminish our ability to grow. Looking back, history tells us that the printed word has survived quite a long time – much longer than the relative nanosecond technology has graced us – and not to recognize and leverage this is also to diminish our capacity to benefit fully from all the media available to us.

As for my mailbox and the catalogs delivered each day? Have I mentioned how often I end up buying something online after browsing through the pages?

Enough said.