Dan Okrent’s killer arguments against print
Saturday, January 3rd, 2004
“Twenty, thirty, at the outside forty years from now, we will look back on the print media the way we look back on travel by horse and carriage, or by wind-powered ship,” Dan Okrent, then Editor at Large for Time, Inc. told a bunch of journalism folks at Columbia University three years ago. Today Okrent is helping shake-up the New York Times’ inbred culture as its Public Editor.
Argument number 1, said Okrent: cheap digital substitutes like tablets are coming. Number 2: “last year, Time Inc., spent $1 billion dollars on paper and postage. End of argument. Or, if you’d like, let me put it this way: you may prefer to ride across town in horse-and-carriage, or across a lake in a wind-powered yacht, but no one makes that carriage or that yacht for you anymore, at least not at a reasonable price.”
Finally, “But the real power of the [printless] business model resides in the potential of digital advertising. Except for direct mail, until the Internet came along no advertising medium existed in which the advertiser could be sure his message was received by his targeted audience. We go to the bathroom during commercials, we flip the pages past magazine and newspaper ads, radio and billboards are white noise. But with a truly interactive medium ‘ with say, a question about the advertisement asked next to the button that gives you your thirty cent credit against the cost of reading your Wall Street Journal ‘ the effectiveness of media advertising changes radically. And if you don’t think advertisers influence the direction of American mass media, you ought to talk to Tom Goldstein about the curriculum here at the J-school.”
I like Okrent.