This weekend, I read the newspaper. What I mean by that is I read the physical newspaper, which is something that I have not done regularly in a nearly a decade. While reading, I remembered how skimming through the physical newspaper lends itself to inadvertently reading about different subjects.
For example, in the past, I would read the newspaper’s content by skimming through some stories, skipping some sections and for the most part taking in the entire paper. What could begin with reading a front page story about a national issue could easily lead to a back page story about Somali insurgents, or Central Asian politics.
I traded in this experience, as have many of my generation, for the customized, editor-free approach to reading the news that Google Reader and RSS feeds have enabled. Now, my news feeds are tailored to my interests, political leanings and professional focus. While my Reader and RSS feed give me greater depth of knowledge into the subjects I am interested in, it seems to come at the expense of less knowledge in a wider range of subjects.
With these changes in content delivery in mind, I became very interested in two new products that attempt to address how our news is formatted – Time Inc.’s new line of digital magazines and a new iPad application called Flipboard.
In attempt to reconnect digital readers to the old print layout of magazines, Sports Illustrated (SI) and publisher Time Inc. (magazine publishers in general, for that matter) are taking their layouts and content and, in the words of Peter Kafka, “porting their printed product to digital form, adding some audio and video, as well as selected links to the Web.” (Read more here).
On the other hand, the much-buzzed about Flipboard, (here) assembles your social media content on the iPad in a way that is similar to reading physical publications – by creating an interface that is similar to that of a magazine.
In presenting readers with digital content laid out like a magazine, Time is fighting an uphill battle against news consumption trends, particularly among young customers who didn’t grow up reading in the magazine format. Conversely, the repackaging of social media content into a magazine layout is like stuffing an MP3 player into the body of a turntable and misses the real reason why magazine/print media readers still choose the actual physical copy of publications.
How do you weigh in on this subject? Does Time Inc. have the solution to sagging sales? Will Flipboard speed the traditional media’s demise?