OPINION: The future may be a digital world, but print is still alive and well

Mathew Frank
Editor

There’s no question that print media has been profoundly impacted by the internet. In fact, the medium’s failure to enter the 21st century and adapt quickly to the web certainly may have caused the demise or decline of many publications, while the business model used to support print-only publications became obsolete.

But that doesn’t mean the print medium is dead yet. Quite the opposite.

According to a Reuters Trends and Predictions report for 2018, more news outlets are likely to depart from Facebook and Google. It’s partially the responsibility of social media, but news outlets have a stake in it as well after not wanting to be reduced to the title of “fake news,” thanks to President Donald Trump.

It begs the question of where media should go?

We have to consider multiple avenues for how we can distribute and receive news. The Toronto Star last week may have invested in new strategies to make digital content more accessible to global audiences last week, edging further away from print, but it doesn’t mean the era of print isn’t still important today.

The changing tide is being felt here and there if one looks for it as print media is experiencing a kind of revival thanks to a changing economy and the supporters and industries that fuel it. Not everyone might feel it yet, but some residents in Toronto are experiencing it.

Newly launched publications like David Bidini’s West End Phoenix have found ways to target audiences by covering news that appeals to people in the community, and they won’t be the first nor the last. Creating news for a community rather than a global village of internet users, I believe, is part of the charm of doing it in the first place.

The West End Phoenix’s website even, affectionately, quips that, “you’re crazy, but good luck,” highlighting the tentative and risky future of such operations, but there are still risks we need to take.

Journalists are among those people considered as risk takers. And sometimes, we must adhere to our own principles and do things just because. These developments are projects we practice in patience and diversify content as we live in the spirit of our times.

Communities, after all, still need reliable and localized information to be aware of not just what’s happening around the world, but what’s happening around them.

They’re communities we foster in neighbourhoods, colleges or universities. That’s why George Brown has the Dialog, Seneca has The Buzz, Centennial College has the Courier, and west Toronto has the West End Phoenix. So, the question is, why doesn’t Humber have a physical Et Cetera?

Of course, the cost and efficiency of producing a paper monthly would have to be taken into consideration. I believe, however, Humber has a strong enough line of talented students willing to make it happen as Humber’s dedication to making content available is possibly the strongest in the country. Media in this way feeds off one another and these are necessary opportunities we may consider in moving forward not just in how we consume or distribute media, but how it can be taught as well.

While it’s clear there is an abundance of information available for young people to access, young people may be getting tired of it and want more.

According to a 2017 Pew Research Poll, younger people have become more knowledgeable and aware of their digital media habits and how they interact with content.

And as people become more well informed and interact with content in different ways, it’s important that people have the ability to have multiple ways they can access content. After all, with content becoming oversaturated and dull in that you can find a million topics on the same thing online, wouldn’t you say you deserve a vacation from social media, or your cell phone? Reduced time on social media and technology are said to cure the blues, although print may not be able to cure the blues…per se.

What? Wait a minute. You’re still here?

It means hopefully you’re willing to give the Et Cetera a chance. Et Cetera is more than a just tedious news outlet cycling off items deemed too unimportant to list. It’s something that if you jump on board with, you’re invested in and we hope to keep you informed and entertained.

So, again, to paraphrase Dave Bidini, we’re crazy, but good luck.

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