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Newsweek Goes All Digital While OCRegister Revitalizes Print



In 1984, Dr. (and Ghostbuster) Egon Spengler declared, “print is dead.” He was certainly on to something, but his conclusion was a bit premature.

Newsweek, the venerable weekly news magazine, has been publishing steadily since 1933. At that time, the magazine cost 10 cents an issue or you could buy a full year subscription for $4.00. Inside the pages — solid news reporting and in-depth looks at people and issues you thought you knew. But it’s the covers that made Newsweek famous, from their undoctored OJ mugshot to Obama with a rainbow halo.

Well, the reporting will live on but the mag’s cover days are almost over. At the end of this year, Newsweek as a print magazine will cease to exist. After that, it’s all digital. You’ll still have to pay for a subscription but the issues will arrive in your iPad instead of your mailbox.

Given the speed with which news travels these days, it only makes sense to abandon print in favor of the instantly up-datable, digital format.

Unless you’re Southern California’s Orange County Register. This daily newspaper has a new owner who wants to focus on improving the quality of the print edition. Good for him. And to do it, he wants reporters to stop publishing online. Huh?

Marla Joe Fisher, the paper’s daily deal blogger, left this message on her blog;

As you may be aware, the Orange County Register was recently sold to new owners who are spending a great deal of time and money improving the quality of our print newspaper.

Already, they’ve added a daily business section, hired a new business editor, hired an award-winning fulltime restaurant reviewer and numerous other changes that are going to make our paper even better than it was before.

As a result, they have decided that most of us should devote our time to the print newspaper, and either reduce or eliminate the effort we are making to work on blogs like this one.

Marla goes on to say that she’ll keep posting on her Facebook page because she enjoys sharing deals with her followers. I don’t even read her column and I’m sad to see her go.

Back in September, the new management pulled the plug on the Register’s iPad app The Peel. On the print side, they’re adding an 8-page business section and a 12-page high school sports recap which required the attention of 40 reporters one weekend. The newspaper also posted numerous job ads looking for a movie critic with credentials, and a variety of investigative reporters with more than five years experience.

I have to give the management credit for upping the quality of the workers and the work. In an age where so many outlets hire anyone they can get for free, it’s nice to see talent being rewarded. But is it smart to turn your back on the internet in 2012?

Maybe the OC Register is making the smartest move of all. With so many people moving out of the print biz, they could end up with something refreshing and. . . oddly. . . new. It’s like the die-hard music fans playing the vinyl instead of the MP3 because the sound is warmer and the pops and skips are part of the experience.

Allow me to correct you, Dr. Spengler. Print isn’t dead, it’s simply becoming a rare flower nestled in the middle of an over-grown landscape.