Over the past year, some of print's big names have gone totally digital or significantly slashed resources. In turn, print journalism's future has – understandably – come into question. Is the end imminent? I don't claim clairvoyance, but I think not.
I recently conducted an impromptu poll among some industry leaders to gauge their opinions on the topic. While some were more bearish on print's future than others, none were anywhere near predicting its demise. Instead, they all recognized an opportunity, almost a necessity, for a mutually beneficial coexistence.
We all recognize the five Ws of reporting – who, what, where, when, and why. However, it's another W – the Web – that is best equipped to answer these quintet of queries in the time needed to satisfy a global audience that demands news instantaneously.
Where were you when you found out Michael Jackson died? No matter the physical location, I bet you were staring at your computer or PDA. Where were you in the succeeding days, when analysis of the King of Pop's life and death ruled many conversations? I'd bet at least part of that time was spent with a newspaper or magazine in your hand.
The experts I queried did break things down by desired impact. Some noted that for a serious business story, The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal print versions could not be overlooked. Others pointed out that to elicit action from a target group, a Web hit is what you want. Still others recognized an evolution toward online outlets, but made a point of stressing how established print publications often drive people to the Web.
PR pros have always recognized the need for complementary thinking. For a campaign to work you need social media elements and conventional tactics, such as live events or product demos. In fact, the Web's best use in terms of PR tactics is often to amplify traditional efforts. People turn to the Web every day to get instant information on an upcoming live event. So, yes, the Internet is a major element, but that event is often the ultimate destination.
The Internet is the most powerful recent addition to our information-gathering needs, but it is just that – an addition, not a replacement for traditional media. We're all very fortunate to live in an era where we don't have to choose between the two. The best-rounded coverage is gleaned from the combination of both, which is good news for PR pros and their clients.
Gideon Fidelzeid is senior editor of PRWeek.