Social Media

In Praise of Print — and Twitter and YouTube and …

I've been thinking a lot lately about triangulation, in regards to how I learn about things. Since I work for a print magazine, and have loved the medium ever since I spent my babysitting earnings on Seventeen, I am not exactly an unbiased bystander.

But I feel like I am starting to see a new information landscape emerge, one that is animated by the streams of data, opinions, and observations that fly second-by-second across our laptop and phone screens, but also anchored by traditional news sources with rock-solid reputations for accuracy and trustworthiness.

For example, when a freakish hailstorm hit Brooklyn, where I live, a few weeks ago, I jumped on TweetDeck and entered the hashtag #brooklyn as soon as ice began pelting the window. There were lots of incredulous reports, and plenty of bon mots (My favorite: “Tom Hanks must be filming You’ve Got Hail!”). But for a more comprehensive look at the storm, I turned to the New York Times, which posted a story on its “CityRoom” blog later that night. Newspapers and news websites may be slower to broadcast news, but I know from my days reporting breaking news, that no matter how urgent the story, getting the facts right trumps being first. I might have been able to piece together a picture of the storm together myself, but I was glad someone was already working on it.

And the information available to me didn’t stop there, of course. YouTube offers dozens of views of the storm, including this one from the New York Daily News. (It’s pretty amazing.) And The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website reported that hailstones measured 3/4 of an inch in Brooklyn Heights, but that Hoboken had it even worse. By looking at all of those sources, I was able to learn about the storm with much more precision, and with far richer layers of detail than I could have by consulting any one of them alone.

I’m far from the first to marvel at the range and sheer volume of information now available to us. (The phrase “drinking from a fire hose” now seems insufficient and almost quaint.) But it seems like so many conversations about media these days are about how one medium is going to replace another. And I think if you look at the big picture, the case can be made that they support rather than supplant one another.

Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor and director of digital content.

  • Kevin Bourne

    Great topic!

    I absolutely love social media. I'm constantly twittering (and to a lesser extent facebooking). I'm always looking for the next communications medium.

    But I'm still a bit old school. A few weeks ago someone asked me if I'd ever own a radio station as a business. At first I thought "No!" because it seems that old forms of media are dead. I've wanted to start a magazine, and had an e-zine in the past, but always thought I'd have to go the digital route because that's where the world is going.

    But then I looked at myself. When I'm in the car I usually listen to the radio, occasionally CDs, and never MP3s. When I buy a movie I want the case, cover and DVD disk, not an electronic file I can watch on my computer and burn onto a blank DVD. I'd rather buy a magazine from the store than read an e-zine on YUDU. I'd rather buy a book from the store than buy a file I can read on my phone or e-reader. If this is how I am I'm sure there are millions of people in the world who are the same way.

    A lot of the traditional media are starting to use new media, like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, to suppliment print. A lot of newspaper editors also have blogs to supplement their print writing.

    Personally, as someone who writes and does desktop publishing, I'd rather see my work in print than in a PDF or some digital format. It's an amazing feeling to have your work in your hands.

    I don't think print will ever die. That would rob us of the beautiful experience of going into a magazine shop to browse or going to a book store to have a coffee and read.

    Long live print!

  • Barbara Palmer

    Kevin, thank you for your thoughtful comments. I think magazines and books are beautiful, too, and I like to get my hands on them.

    Radio is a great example of "old media" staying fresh and relevant in the face of new communications.

    Hope you do start that magazine …

  • RS

    Agreed.

    Postering and graffiti as advertising form are thousands of years old (we are just back from a trip to Rome where that is still on evidence).

    And yet you see both of them still in use today.

    Media channels rarely die. New ones just get added to the mix. Your radio example is a perfect proof point!

    Cheers and thanks for a smart post.

    Scott

  • Barbara Palmer

    Thank you for your comment, Scott. Excellent point about postering — I had not thought of that!