Journalism’s Future Shock “Cake Mix”
Finally, a model for delivery of journalistic efforts that can excite the reader. Watch as the Editor of Sports Illustrated shows you what innovative minds will probably offer just months in the future, when Apple releases its highly anticipated tablet, a kind of iPhone on steroids. Black and white and gray e-readers…watch out!
With newspapers suffering diminishing revenues, the next logical vision for delivery of photojournalism, with inviting and insightful rich content, along with engaging interactive experiences, is at our doorstep. One finds it easy to foresee most readers would gladly enter a comfortable, flexible and mobile virtual world of news, features, entertainment, sports and information (including interactive ads) for a fair subscription fee if given access to this technology.
It is not hard to imagine publishing and media companies actually subsidizing the purchase of inexpensive multi-media tablets, as AT&T does with the iPhone, with minimum term subscription plans, in order to encourage, and boost, electronic circulation. Heavy and bulky laptops, or stationary desktops will be yesterday’s delivery device if tablet (not tabloid) journalism takes off. Should interactive classified ads be added to the flowing content (including lucrative and highly prized legal notices which are currently restricted to certain print newspapers), publishing revenues could be boosted, and journalism may have saved itself through its own Darwinian process.
With a device like the one shown or thin e-paper delivery products, articles will deliver what famed author Alvin Toffler referred to as “psychological extras” in his 1970 masterpiece Future Shock. The delivery of simple to use, high resolution tablets and devices heralds a true blend between ergonomics, entertainment, newspapers, television stations, radio outlets and internet content providers. We are about to witness the “psychic cake mix” about which Toffler envisioned, which had its roots in the old fashioned printing press. What is shown by the SI video is an evolutionary step toward reinvigorating people to experience the pure excitement and personal involvement that is genuine journalism. Such a device also promises to propel teaching and business into new dimensions.
The recent gut wrenching debate about the future of journalism (to charge for on-line content or not) has missed one central truth. Those who have offered glimpses of the future have missed the psychological dimension needed to invigorate human interest in rich journalism in an era of information overload. Now journalism can be enjoyable, personal and touch the individual tastes of each reader by appealing to the tactile, visual and olfactory senses. Long before the Internet was even conceived, Toffler wrote, “One of the curious facts about production in all the techno-societies today, and especially in the United States, is that goods are increasingly designed to yield psychological “extras” for the consumer. The manufacturer adds a “psychic load” to his basic product, and the consumer gladly pays for this intangible benefit.” That is what is happening here. By adding that intangible plus that strikes the curiosity and information hunger of readers by using color, sound, video and print…journalism has bright and exhaulting future.
The tablet, which is like a personal version of CNN’s “Magic Wall,” is but one vehicle for the delivery of news room content. As reported December 8 on NYTimes.com, The Sports Illustrated example is a part of an effort to create an “industry-standard platform” for delivery to all different types of devices, from laptops to mobile phones. Time, CondeNast, Hearst and Meredith, all magazine publishers, are on to something. We can’t wait, and it seems we may not have to for very long.