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And the New ‘New Media’ Is … Print?

John Tarleton Dec 17

The Indypendent began publishing 15 years ago in the early days of the Internet. We have watched the digital tide sweep through the economy and remake whole institutions, including journalism. More legacy print publications have vanished than we can count. 

During this time this newspaper has managed to survive, often to the astonishment of our supporters. It is incontestable that every day more people are online doing more things with their digital devices. Based on this, media gurus have been prognosticating print’s inevitable doom for the past decade. From our experience of watching new issues of the Indy get snapped up month after month, year after year, we came to another conclusion: A lot of people still like to read print.

Why is that? Take your pick. Because print is unique. Because it’s tactile and highly portable. Because it doesn’t require you to stare at a screen. You can flip back and forth between the articles, write on the pages, tear out a favorite article and post it on the fridge or pass it around from one friend to the next. 

But still, we have been reminded over and again that print has no future. So imagine my surprise when I recently came across a story on the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) website hailing print as the new ‘new media.’

Say what?

CJR is published by the nation’s preeminent school of journalism. It is a respected arbiter of trends and tastes in the journalism industry. And now in relation to print, words like “innovative,” “artful,” “perspective-altering” and “faithful spouse” were being bandied about in its pages.

“For years, the new media vanguard has preached ‘digital first’ and the death knell has sounded again and again for print,” the CJR article intones. “Now, 20 years into the digital revolution, print is making something of a comeback.”

In fact, we are told there’s a man in Mississippi who tracks the dozens of new print publications being started every month on his website. 

Somehow the Indy had fallen so far behind the times it ended up ahead of the curve. 

The CJR article noted that daily newspapers — unable to keep up with the speed of the Internet and watching their revenues be eviscerated by online competitors — still face a grim future. But for print publications that have a passionate community of readers, the future is brighter. 

We’ve known that for a long time too. It’s our reader support that has always carried us through. We do a single fund drive at the end of each year. The money we raise at this time is crucial to our ability to continue publishing in the coming year. In a sense it’s an annual referendum on how much our readers value the work we do. It’s one we have to pass at the end of each year to continue into the next year with the resources we need. 

I encourage you to check out our back-page fund appeal and the premiums we are offering and respond generously. It may sound like a cliché, but your support really does make all the difference, whether you make a one-time gift or sign up to become a monthly sustainer. It makes possible the on-the-ground coverage of social movements, the incisive, hard-hitting analysis of the most important issues of the day and the beautiful artwork and photography you will find in the following pages. 

If you are giving once again this year, thank you for your stellar support. If you have enjoyed reading the paper but have not previously given, why not make this the year you join our growing community of reader-supporters?

We look forward to doing more great work in 2016, but first we need to hear from you.