Monday, November 28, 2016

Is transitioning from print to digital a myth? Ken Whyte thinks so

There has been some low-level buzz about a recent personal blog post by Ken Whyte, the former publisher of Maclean's and head of Rogers Publishing and, latterly, founding president of Next Issue Canada (now, Texture). While he is careful to say his blog reflects his personal viewpoint alone, given his history a certain startle reflex is to be expected in the industry. 

First, he said that transitioning from print to digital is a myth.
"There is no transition from print to digital. There is print, and there is digital. Period. I find this depressing but it needs to be confronted. Show me a single title that has stood up and said, "Here, we've done it, we've made the leap from print to a flourishing digital operation that can support the expense of what's left of this newsroom."
Then, the very next day, in "a more optimistic scenario" he said there may be an upside to the crash of print legacy companies, such as making room for new ventures in the digital realm.
"Hundreds of newspapers and magazines are set to crash in the next few years. As this happens, we will see two things. First, the remains of these companies, and castoffs from these companies, will begin building digital operations if not from scratch, at least untethered to print. Freed of the burden of their legacy businesses, they will embrace their new realities, try many things, and learn a lot, and some of them may find their way to sustainable new business models. This huge new wave of effort by desperate practitioners of former print journalists may well produce something interesting."
Sounds like what Rogers Publishing is doing by eschewing print for several of its better-known titles, including Canadian Business, MoneySense, FLARE and Sportsnet, Doubtless this will be part of the chatter over pints at a forthcoming "End of Print" drink-up being hosted by art director John Montgomery. It's aimed at designers, photo editors and photographers and takes place December 15 at 7:30 p.m. at No One Writes to the Colonel at 460 College Street. 

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