This is why we read digital media

In a recent blog post, I shared the story of a bright and talented 20-something job candidate who confessed to me that she’d never purchased a print edition of any newspaper in her life because she’s so comfortable consuming all her media digitally. Invariably this story evokes frowns and head shaking from anyone north of 40 years old when I tell it. But after reading my July 24 Chicago Tribune sports section, I see her point. I wanted to find out the results of a crucial Chicago Cubs-Arizona Diamondbacks game played in Arizona the evening of July 23. The Cubs, clinging to a shrinking first-place lead in the National League Central, had been faltering of late and needed to do well. So the team’s performance against the Diamondbacks was no small matter. But you’d never know it from reading the print edition of the Tribune (Near West edition) which carried no results of the game because the print edition went to press before the game ended. (The Near West print Tribune also failed to report the final score of the 2008 Major League All-Star game.) Of course I found what I needed from the digital world. But the problem is that when I access the internet, the Chicago Tribune is competing with MLB.com, ESPN.com, and a host of other destinations. The Tribune loses that one-to-one relationship it has with me when I dive into the print edition on the commuter train. Yes, I got what I wanted from digital this morning. But did the Tribune?

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4 Responses to This is why we read digital media

  1. Very interesting point you make at the end of the article. The Tribune definitely loses that traditional \”one-to-one relationship\” with its\’ readers. However, the competition that exists in the digital world is a new landscape for companies to build close (but not traditional)relationships with their customers.

    The print newspaper medium is an old business model. Trying to gain the same success or relationship with readers in the online world calls for change in their approach.

    Although the content may remain the same across different sites, whoever figures out how to deliver it in the most exciting, interactive, simple, and user friendly way will win out in the end.

    So, in my humble view, the Tribune (and other companies) can get what they want from digital. But only when they adjust their thinking to compete on this new playing field.

    -Alex Greenwood

    p.s. GO CUBS!

  2. Steve Furman says:

    David, maybe you\’re reading the wrong paper.

  3. David Deal says:

    Thanks for your input, guys. Steve, I sometimes wonder if you\’re right. Alex, you raise some great points. I do think there is something different about the digital experience with regards to news reading: it\’s harder to stay loyal to any particular media outlet if for any reason than one simple mouse click takes me from the Chicago Tribune to ESPN. By the way, one publication that recently showed it \”gets\” the offline/online relationship is Vanity Fair. The August 2008 issue contains an article by Christopher Hitchens about what it\’s like to endure waterboarding. The online edition contains a video of his experience — pretty ugly example, but VF shows how to draw a reader from print to online for the kind of interactivity you cannot get in its print edition.

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