Friday, November 5, 2010

The Eyes Have It

The Eyes Have It

The late afternoon Keynote featured panel moderator, Rick Kupchella,; panelists Susan Adams Loyd, Principal, Beavers Pond Press; Deborah Hopp, Publisher, Mpls. St. Paul magazine; and David Brauer, Journalist & Media Critic, All present to lend their perspective to Chaos in today’s current media.

The general consensus from this afternoon’s panel was that the local media has changed dramatically in the last ten years. In that timeframe, television ad revenue in the Twin Cities marketplace has dropped from $300 million to less than $200 million. Many magazine circulations have declined with corresponding revenues. We’ve all heard about the woes of dwindling newspaper subscriptions.

Yet each of the panelists found reason for optimism. Susan Adams Loyd mentioned that it was a time of changing opportunity for book publishing. As one of the oldest forms of publication, books now have a new opportunity to appear online in an additional digital format as well as in their age-old paper format. And with an increase in world literacy to 87% of the population, there’s more chance for readership than ever.

Deborah Hopp suggested that print media that can be held in a person’s hands, such as the Mpls./St. Paul Magazine, is more intimate for readers than reading online. And most readers prefer that a traditionally published magazine is finite, with a satisfying feeling of ending when you get to the last page, while an online version tends to keep linking on.

David Brauer had mixed feelings about online publications rather that print. He felt that the shorter online format meant that writers produce articles of less depth and have less time to reflect on the stories they’d done. Yet he did acknowledge that, for him, the closer connection with an audience online meant he felt more in tune with them.

Everyone had concerns with some aspects of online publishing, particularly in association with news. Bias due to sponsorship was chief among these concerns. Rick Kupchella’s new venture,, uses sponsored stories. Although, he sees them as close kin to the sponsored news programs of the fifties. Hopp’s concern over potentially less neutral journalistic standards by non-professional online journalists is a valid one. This was countered by Bauer’s contention that online we may often be fed information by an editor that knows us well and cares about us, our friends. Adams Loyd pointed out that essentially all content is sponsored content and always has been since ad revenues have always driven content and the pursuit of ratings.

For me, Bauer summed an essential aspect of print and online media today: people are still getting more than what they pay for and until they feel they get less than what they pay for and vote with their eyes, publishing will continue in the current online direction.

Dave Buchanan is an account manager at Capsule. He is involved in brand development, research planning, and naming for the firm's clients. Client experience includes: Rayovac, AMPI, Honeywell, Polaris, Carlson Companies, Spec Mix, Herman Miller, Vital Images, TIGI Linea and Target.

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