Opinion » Note

Down the Digital Rabbit Hole


Since the most recent edition of BW's Annual Manual hit stands two weeks ago, I've heard one solitary complaint. Not saying there aren't more out there, just saying only one has come across my desk. This one: a voicemail from a reader who thoroughly disliked our inclusion of web addresses rather than phone numbers. And because she's not on the web and we are so enthusiastic about the web, she's no longer a reader.

I'm not sweating this complaint for two reasons: First, in almost every instance you see a website in BW, Annual Manual or any other publication we put out, there's also a phone number. Second, I figure if you don't have the web to use as a resource to find information--including phone numbers--you have the trusty yellow pages, which despite my best efforts, continues to show up on my doorstep.

I don't bring up the subject of the print/Internet tug of war just to lambast the reader who complained. Rather, I bring it up to reiterate that, like it or not, a large part of the publishing world has become digital. Last week we held a special discounted screening of Page One, a documentary about a year in The New York Times' newsroom, at The Flicks. In part, the film explored the negative impact of the Internet on newspaper ad revenue, including the Times' bottom line. In fact, just recently, McClatchy, which owns the Idaho Statesman, announced it is down more than 30 percent in its second quarter earnings from 2010.

The complicated relationship between print and the web is a complex topic, and one that can't possibly be addressed it the 400 words I have here. Ironically the more invested in the digital world print news becomes through websites, mobile platforms, apps and social networks, the further revenue seems to drop--at least in the daily newspaper world. Yet focusing solely on print content and ignoring digital altogether is, some say, an even quicker path to self-destruction. Damned if they do, damned if they don't.

I say "they" because, thus far, we've managed to increase revenue while simultaneously falling deeper into the online rabbit hole. In fact, just this week, we've taken our efforts to increase dialog with our readers in the digital world one step further. Search any editorial member in Facebook to find his or her Journalist's Page. We'll post links to stories, share info we couldn't share in print, answer questions and respond to comments. You just have to "like" us.