Internet conversations can have valuable print impact

It's a safe assumption that most readers of this column have had a relationship with print journalism that has transcended mere dispassionate reading.

It's a safe assumption that most readers of this column have had a relationship with print journalism that has transcended mere dispassionate reading.

Newspapers and magazines, despite their static nature, have always been the result of dynamic interaction among multiple stakeholders, from the journalists themselves to the reading public and, of course, the PR professionals who help influence what subjects make it into the editorial calendar and who ends up being quoted. It's always been a conversation, if you will.

But, admittedly, the printed publication had - and still has - the advantage of retaining the final decision on whose influence to accept and which opinions are worth a longer consideration. As long as the publication is springing for the paper, that's unlikely to change.

But, as many have pointed out, the Internet, while not completely leveling the playing field, has shifted the balance. Readers and sources can - and do - call out publications online for ignoring the important issues, botching quotes, and general ineptitude. Just last week, a PR professional wondered on his blog if we had read a recent Op-Ed we published. For the record, we did. We actually find time during the week to read everything we publish.

While criticism is aplenty, there is also evidence of warmth for print publications amongst the digital masses. It was encouraging to see Business 2.0 readers and the tech community opening their hearts and their Facebook accounts to try to save the Time Inc. magazine when the company apparently soured on Business 2.0's financial prospects and was set to shut it down, according to The New York Times.

To bolster the magazine's chances for survival, a reader created a Facebook group, "I read Business 2.0 - and I want to keep reading," which eventually grew to 2,000 members, including several Business 2.0 employees. Readers asked each other what subscription price they would pay to keep the magazine solvent, suggested the company move to PDF distribution, and asked one another what made Business 2.0 worth saving. As this column went to press, Silicon Valley industry blog Valleywag, written by a former Business 2.0 journalist, was reporting that the magazine was expected to receive a reprieve, most likely by a sale.

The conversation around Business 2.0 was inspiring, but also worrisome in that it seemed to come only when the publication was in peril. At PRWeek, we'd prefer our conversation to start now. Join us at www.prweek.com/us/blogs to debate us on what makes us worth reading and chide us for what we're missing. Take the opportunity to comment on our posts and draw attention to your own ideas.

If you do so, you might find a backdoor way into getting into PRWeek magazine. Every so often, in lieu of a second Op-Ed or letters to the editor, we will be running the best of our comments from the blogs. We'd welcome the conversation.

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