Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Media Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

From CHEN PR Veep Randy Wambold...

An article in today's Wall Street Journal, entitled "New York Times to Integrate Print and Online Newsrooms," (at present the article is available to subscribers and non-subscribers alike) reports that the New York Times will formally integrate its traditional print newsroom with its online newsroom.

For those of us in the business of working with media, this is further confirmation of a trend that's been developing for a long time: the line between print and online news content is blurring and sometimes disappearing. We've come a long way from the days when PR professionals would gather around the office lobby on a Monday morning, ready to mob the mail carrier when s/he arrived, to search through an enormous pile of publications for coverage of our clients.

When the Web first began to proliferate as a business tool back in the mid 90s, many of us were ambivalent about online coverage. When online coverage merely mimicked hard copy coverage, as it so often did then, the general feeling seemed to be "two formats are better than one." But as online coverage tended at times to replace hard copy coverage, some of us wondered if online coverage was as trusted an information source as hard copy coverage.

Ten years later it's hard to imagine that was ever a debate. Most of the people I know, as well as most of the readers my clients target, rely primarily or even exclusively on online sources for their news.

To be clear, I am not forecasting the demise of hard copy publications any time soon. As an avid reader and book collector, I personally am someone who believes there always will be a place for hard copy publications. For me, no electronic media will ever replace the experience of browsing a used bookstore or flipping through magazines and newspapers at a news stand.

The lesson I as a communications professional take from today's news is a reminder that the channels we utilize to help our clients get a message to their audience are ever-evolving. The Monday morning assault of the mail carrier has been replaced by Web-based coverage, and soon enough no doubt other channels will supplement it (of course in many ways, they already have - take the blog on which I'm writing right now, for example).

I fully expect to be writing another blog entry down the road marveling at the advent of new channels that none of us has even yet imagined. And that's what keeps this business fun.

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