Print is Dead, Long Live Print

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff

Note:  This editorial appeared in the September issues of the ACPmagazines

From the invention of the printing press, print has been a dominant communications medium. Movies, radio, television and now the Internet challenge it to a degree, but in these instances print finds new ways to survive.

A few months ago, an editorial friend heard a broadcast on “Under the Influence with Terry O’Reilly”, on the continuation of radio as a viable media.

On the show O’Reilly said, “Radio isn’t dead, it’s hotter than ever. Because I co-founded a company based on radio advertising, and because I host a national radio show that explores the advertising industry, I am often asked the same question over and over again: ‘What’s going to happen to radio?’

I’m always amused by that question, because the subtext is that radio is in trouble. To that I say – radio is the ultimate survivor.

It was the first-ever broadcast medium, and it went on the air way back in the 1920s, both in Canada and the United States. Warren Harding was the first American President to speak on public radio in 1922, and Prime Minister Mackenzie King was the first Canadian leader to be broadcast in 1927. Radio seemed like a miracle – because it was the first time an entire country could hear a live sound at exactly the same time.

Since then, radio has survived the competition of motion pictures, television, and now, the Internet. If I had to put my finger on why radio has survived, I would have to say because it is such a ‘personal’ medium.

Radio is a voice in your ear. It is a highly personal activity. People rarely listen to radio in groups, the way an entire family might sit in front of the television, or go to a theatre to see a movie.

Radio is local. It broadcasts news and programming that is mostly local in nature. And through all the technological changes happening around radio, and in radio – be it AM moving to FM moving to satellite radio and Internet radio, basic terrestrial radio survive into another day. And in the world of advertising and marketing, radio continues to be incredibly innovative.”

O’Reilly’s views on the survival of radio can also be applied to the longevity of print.

The same rationalization for its continued existence can be established especially when you apply one sentence in particular to this thought:

If I had to put my finger on why print has survived, I would have to say because it is such a “personal” medium – like radio.

Print is communication in the palm of your hand. It publishes news and programming that is mostly local in nature. Through all the technological changes happening today, be it the web, blogs, or social media, print survives into another day.

You can take your magazine with you no matter where you go. You can roll it fold it, spindle or mutilate it, dog-ear it. You can highlight paragraphs, make notes in the margins, underline copy, tear pages out and copy it. You can share it or throw it away when you’re done with it. It can be recycled.

While you’re reading it, you are reading it to yourself. It comes to you with your name and address on it. It’s yours.

The ads you can read or flip past you don’t have to wait for 30 seconds before you can skip them. They’re focused at you, your interests and your profession. They aren’t so broad-scoped that they reach no one.

Have you ever noticed how quickly and frequently the Internet/digital ads change? And, for that matter sometimes even the content. With print, an hour from now, a week, a year, or a decade from now, the words will not have changed and the ads, carrying a product and company name, will still be there.

Print, like radio, is here to survive. Why? Because it’s personal.

The full text from the broadcast is available at: