Friday, October 22, 2010

Why I believe in print: Giovanni di Lorenzo

Giovanni di Lorenzo, Editor-in-Chief of weekly newspaper Die Zeit, Germany, believes in the future of newspaper, despite the current crisis. In his speech "Why I believe in Print," di Lorenzo emphasized the importance of economic sustainability to finance quality journalism - both in print and online.
And although he acknowledges that new media could be a possible source of income in the future, he stated: "As long as we do not make money out of online journalism, we have to concentrate on print." He challenged the prophets of a digital revolution and reminds the audience of the virtues of print journalism. "In times of crisis the readers demand for analysis and orientation". In his view, print caters for both. "Newspapers of the future are not the river but the shores" he says. They are providing guidance for the flow of information.
Nevertheless, di Lorenzo received the World Editors Forum's proclamation of the "The Tablet Year" as a new chance for journalistic work: "We need to understand the iPad as a promising device to monetarize high-quality journalism in the digital world - simply to keep this independent and unadjusted profession alive." But meanwhile, he questioned the progressive tone of some colleagues."When journalists declare the end of print in the newspapers and publishers promote the internet, I wonder about this pleasure to diminish their own profession."
Di Lorenzo added that although it was true that fewer young people read the paper today than did so in the past, it is not true to say that only interested in how many friends they had on Facebook. Indeed, most new readers of Die ZEIT are in their twenties or thirties. "We have to concentrate on those who still do read rather than run after those that we cannot reach anymore anyway", he said.
However, newspapers and weekly magazines have had to change, too. They have had to get to know their readers better and listen to what they were interested in, di Lorenzo said. Not only journalists but readers too can create great content. An example he gave was that print media can try to embrace a very digital idea of user generated content. For that reason Die ZEIT introduced a new section that gives readers the opportunity to write about what they are angry about, what quotes they liked - something they would normally do online. Di Lorenzo explained that on this page, readers nominated their "hero of the week", protested against political decisions and wrote letters to prominent personalities. The feedback was amazing, he said. And this content could be transferred on an iPad as well. However, the boundaries between professional journalists and readers should never be blurred, he stressed.
In times of change, print media must dare something instead of freezing in fear, di Lorenzo said. They should risk failing with a new section rather than not giving it a go in the first place. "I call that, in the style of the military, 'flexible response'", he said.


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