Print vs web row misses the point

Contrarian views about journalism tend to provoke a reaction and David Carr’s piece in the New York Times on a successful newspaper that shuns the web is no exception.

The newspaper is the TriCityNews of Monmouth County in New Jersey, which “is prospering precisely because it aggressively ignores the web”.

Carr wrote that:

Into the teeth of a historic recession, the newspaper had just published the biggest issue in its history. The product is double-digit profitable, and it has been growing at a clip of about 10 percent a year since it was founded in 1999, right about the time the Web was beginning to put its hands around print’s neck.

The article has been taken to task, online of course, for its “simplistic and just plain wrong analysis” and for perpetuating “all kinds of myths about the so-called competition between the web and the printed newspaper business“.

It is, as Ryan Sholin pointed out, like comparing apples and oranges.

But there is something to be learnt from the experience of the Tri-City News. It is a product that works in its market and for its audience.

The point is not whether print is better than the web or vice versa. Rather it is to understand the needs of the audience and offer a product that works for that audience., be it in print, online or on the iPhone.

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