Is paper obsolete as a medium

"Print is currently the most underrated medium"

Media studies raise the question of whether the digital generation will save the newspapers. One thing is certain: paper has potential.

Millennials are people who don't know what a phone booth is, but who, according to statisticians, shoot 88 text messages a day. Millennials are those young women and men (born between 1985 and 2000) who grew up in an already digitized world and have 1.25 selfie sticks per capita. Since the millennials are considered the generation of the future, it was previously assumed that soon everyone would be constantly typing messages and taking photos of themselves. But it might turn out differently.

More and more often we are receiving messages from the USA, the country of the great media trends, which make the digital generation look rather analogue. Scientists have found that US millennials are buying books more often than e-books again; the annual book sales are increasing reliably. Or: Over 30 percent of 21 to 34-year-old Americans obtain information about what is happening exclusively using printed media - and 28 percent use both analog and digital news sources in a relaxed manner.

Finally, the journalism platform Niemanlab.org reported as early as 2015 that 30 to 40-year-old Americans were more likely to spend their money on a print title than on subscribing to a news app. Nothing changed about that.

Attentive ad readers

In view of this episode of pro-print news, this week the American marketing portal The Drum dared to ask: "Are the boys saving the newspapers?" Even if The Drum was unable to come up with a clear answer, one thing was certain: "Print is currently the most undervalued medium."

There is a good reason for the fact that marketing people in particular follow the trend reports from the publishing front closely: Millennials pay more attention - according to a report by market researcher Ipso - to advertisements in newspapers and magazines more often and more carefully than advertisements on laptops or smartphones.

The reasons are understandable even for older generations: the study participants named digital fatigue, for example. Or distrust of web information in the wake of the fake news debate. It looks as if the first online generation is getting tired of the digital in some respects.

Can we now expect a counter-disruption in the media industry? Led by millennials who fly paid newspapers over their heads like flags? Barely.

But the irony of the development is: The millennial phenomenon is manifesting itself at a time when many publishers have given up the content platform paper as a future option - under the impression of falling advertising income and in view of the high production and distribution costs.

The millennials' young love for printed formats demands all the more attention. This generation will soon make up the new middle class. Advertising and the media have to reach them, on all channels. And apparently millennials see offers in online and offline media that are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they use them in a complementary way. Actually logical.

The smart newspaper of the future

However, media companies around the world are currently primarily developing their mobile channels and are investing a large part of their resources in digital technologies that are often the same - algorithms, for example, that want to offer readers personalized content recommendations. However, we journalists have to admit that the concrete solutions are seldom convincing. And on top of that, there was not much demand from users.

So what? The industry should use at least part of its energy to think about the smart newspaper of the future in good time, to be inspired and innovative. Via a newspaper, for example, which frees itself from rigidly categorizing its content in sections. The compact information, but analyzed in detail. Which explains with dedication. Confident entertains. Or is simply beautiful to look at.

What do millennials teach us? Paper has potential.

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