We'll Put it in Print
BY JASON J. NICHOLS, OD, MPH, PHD, FAAO
As you may have observed over the last several months, we are in a state of transition in terms of the way we obtain information from the media. I am not necessarily speaking about eyecare or medical information, but quite simply news and entertainment as it applies to society in general. We're witnessing the demise of newspapers (or at least the print versions of some newspapers), and it seems a day does not go by in which there is more "bad news" for local print-based media outlets. Although quantitative data on the topic are somewhat elusive, I recently ran across a Web site (www.graphicdesignr.net/papercuts/) that tracks layoffs, buyouts, and closings associated with U.S.-based newspapers. At the time this editorial was written, there were nearly 8,000 jobs lost across nearly 60 newspapers that have stopped publishing, and this represents only the first quarter of 2009.
The current state of the economy has no doubt contributed to these changes, but the issue started surfacing in the 1990s when the expansion of the Internet began to challenge the traditional business model of newspapers. Specifically, paid subscriptions started to go down, while at the same time, traditional advertising revenue shifted to online media sources. Likewise, classified ad sections of newspapers were challenged by sites such as Ebay and Craigslist. For those of you with kids in middle school and high school, it is very likely that you have experienced or at least heard of popular networking and social Web sites such as MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter — or you may know of them from your own personal use. Although more akin to blogging, the popularity of these sites reminds us of the new and creative ways that information is disseminated in a timely fashion.
Although other print publications face similar challenges, there is no question that the traditional newspaper has been hit the hardest by this evolution in publishing. However, what is curious to me is that it seems that many popular magazines are still doing well. For instance, it is highly unlikely that we will see People magazine ever move to a solely online version (if it did, what would our patients read in our waiting areas?).
We know from readership surveys that a significant majority of you prefer to obtain clinical information from professional clinical journals (rather than from meetings, sales reps, or even from the Internet, which typically ranks among the bottom in preference). This point makes us question what specific factors are valuable enough to readers about a publication to keep it afloat. We plan to continue to provide value to you in the care of your contact lens and ocular surface patients in the print medium. Please let us know how we can better serve you in this regard. And for those of you who prefer the Internet, we have been online for years. Check us out at www.CLSpectrum.com.