The Media Satchel – print to the point

The Media Satchel - print to the point
"I'm just sad for the newspapers' current state" - Vintage et Moderne
With the announcement that three Fairfax editors have left the ship, and two new editors since appointed, following last week's revelations, staff are understandably in a bit of a spin. This transition to digital, and the fracas surrounding the board and company directors, has very human implications.  

Amanda Wilson, the first editor of The Sydney Morning Herald, has handed in her notice together with Peter Fray, the paper's editor-in-chief, and so too Paul Ramadge, editor-in-chief of The Age. This dramatic turn of events comes as a new editorial structure is to be implemented. "These are extremely challenging times for the media," said Ramadge. "As I leave The Age I am convinced that our nation needs The Age more than ever. It is an essential guardian of truth and fairness."

These are sentiments surely shared by former Sydney Morning Herald writer and columnist Chris McGillon, who wrote for Eureka Street last week: "I never quite lost the excitement born of the responsibility I felt toward the public, the thrill of seeing my words in print, and the satisfaction of knowing that, in however small a way, I was helping to shape the thoughts of people across the city every day. The corner shop is gone now, unable to compete with the shopping complex that was built down the road. The Sydney Morning Herald is heading the same way – and for much the same reason." 

The GWAS office looks like an igloo made of newspapers. At least we will be very warm for the winter's hibernation, and we are helping to keep them in print. In fact, the newspapers have become even more valued in their printed form because of this: when assessing all the content read in 2011, it was only features in print that could be recalled with any clarity... and that goes for content generated here, too. Isn't that interesting? 

A memorable piece about community c/o The Weekend Australian Magazine
Absorption of ideas and concepts and stories happens more easily through print, without the distraction of emails popping into the inbox and Facebook chat requests and Twitter postings driving your mind beserk. And this is supported in a 2011 study called Medium Matters: Newsreaders' Recall and Engagement with Online and Print Newspapers which found "readers of printed newspapers recalled significantly more news stories than online news readers". They also recalled more news topics and article main points than online readers, though they tended to read less of a story in print.  

"The results reflect prior research that shows print subjects remembered more news stories than online subjects and suggest that the development of dynamic (multimedia) online story forms in the past decade have had little effect toward making them more impressionable than print stories."

We are only human with finite mental capacities (for some of us, more finite than others') and attention spans, after all.  

Australian journalists can rest assured (as much as they possibly can) that they are not alone. "Even as we begin to see signs of recovery in our nation’s economy, we continue to see dark days for our industry, and this is among the darkest,” Eric Haines, New Orleans Association of Black Journalists vice president tells The Huffington Post. “So many talented and dedicated journalists who have done their part to help sustain these companies are now faced with what to do next now that they have lost their jobs through no fault of their own." The Times-Picayune, New Orleans' metro paper will now be printing three times a week and has laid off 200 employees. 

The publishers of European Daily are optimistic that our love of print will stick, at least for the older folks it will be catering to in European countries. 'You would have to be mad, mad!, surely to start a newspaper amidst the euro and media crisis, would you not?' asks Mediashift, which gets the downlow on the print upstart.

"Some people have praised us on our perfect timing ... At the same time, others tell us it is bold to launch a European paper these days, asking: 'What if Europe falls apart?'" says, Johan Malmsten, one of the three young and ambitious editors who birthed the idea of a pan-European daily back in 2007.  

"We are a publication that partly targets a more senior audience who, to a great extent, still prefers print, as well as a traveling audience who wants to read their news on a flight or at their hotel." 

The editors tell Mediashift that they intend to appoint a raft of senior editors with international or daily newspaper experience to their fledgling paper. The title will focus on the unique nature of a Europe in which more people are crossing borders for study, work and leisure. 

"For a Dane living in Paris, an important news story in Poland might well be more important than the municipal elections in France," says Malmsten, who hopes to give  avoice to a European public sphere. "So part of the European perspective will consist in selecting the most important news from across Europe. The other part is covering these news items in a way so that people can relate to them, by applying a European perspective to the story itself. This means asking, how does this story matter to our reader as a citizen of Europe?"

On the digital side of life, blogger/writer/columnist and former newspaper journalist Sarah Wilson reflects on the discomfort of feeling "social media obliged" and how to be wise: "The most successful people I know have created firm boundaries for themselves. They check their email twice a day only (Tim Ferris). They’ve shut down the comments on their blogs (Gala Darling and many others). They delineate between “open door” forums, where they give for free and openly, and forums where only those who pay get access (Seth Godin)." Interestingly Wilson says she reads the newspapers each day via her Twitter feed. 

Girl With a Satchel