Media: Is Print Dead?


Magazines, Newspapers, Books, Encyclopedias, Catalogs, Travel Guides, maps, and more.

When was the last time you picked one up to read; picked one up with your hands, not virtually on a tablet, phone, or desktop?

Have you ever smelled a new magazine, book or newspaper?  Do you know THAT smell? 

Back in the day print media, mostly newspapers, was created to share information, news, events, in a fast way to the general public.  Does this seem accurate now?

Probably not.  Over the years print media has had to redefine itself, like many industries. 

Can you think of other industries that have been around for many years but have had to shift their main purpose over the years?

At first, news was chiseled in stone. Later, it was handwritten and posted in a public area much like today's posters or read from a scroll by a town crier. As early as 131 B.C., the ancient Roman government produced daily news sheets and informed the public in this way. Through the years, print media evolved to include entertainment, education topics and more, instead of only conveying news.  


In general, the purpose of a newspaper is to convey, as efficiently A Stack of Newspapersas possible, current information, or "news", to a particular audience. What constitutes "news" depends in part on the intended audience. Newspapers aimed at a general audience will carry news about politics, crime, wars, economics--just about anything that could interest a general reader. A farm newspaper, on the other hand, might carry news about developments in farming techniques, crop prices, information about county and state fairs, and so forth.

Paper Route, Bike BoyYou must have seen this scene in the movies before, the young kid (looking to be around 10-14) riding their beat-up bike around the neighborhood with a satchel of newspapers around their back, tossing the paper (sometimes hitting the neighbors) onto the lawns of neighborhood houses.

“Paper Routes” used to be a very common first job for many Americans in the 40’s - 60’s.  In fact, an article was released in the business magazine called, “Inc,” in which they found a common theme amongst some top billionaire businessmen.  That commonality is that they all had “paper routes” around the age of 12!


Nowadays most print media whether it be books, magazines, or newspapers, can easily be mailed to your home or found at your local store.  There are many local magazines in print that highlight neighborhood businesses and events, similar to a newspaper but usually without the main news. This type of magazine could be labeled as a “special interest magazine.”   In 2018, special interest magazines were the fastest growing magazine genre.

Motorcyclist, an American magazine whose topic is best explained by its title, ranked as the fastest growing magazine brand in the U.S. in 2018.  Other top magazines in the USA are National Geographic, AARP Magazine & Bulletin, Better Homes & Gardens, Game Informer, Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, People, Time & Women’s Day. 

The success of a magazine can be measured in a variety of ways such as circulation, digital replica circulation, revenue by platform, revenue, and annual growth. 

Although there has been a lot of news about printed magazines having financial troubles over the past few years, magazines remain an important platform for many advertisers. Consumer magazine advertising reached an estimated 15.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2019.

There were 7,218 magazines in the United States in 2018, up from 7,176 in the previous year.

The U.S. newspaper industry on the other hand has shrunk by about $4.5 billion between 2011 and 2018, and respected publications such as The New York Times and The Washington Post have had many layoffs while others ceased their print version. But other publishers are refreshing their strategies for the print format and getting positive results.

While we live in a digital-first world, there is still a strong sense that print is valuable, especially to Gen Z.

Are you Gen Z?  (Gen Z were born roughly between the late 1990’s and up to around 2015.  Is that you?) 

In a world where just about anyone can be a ‘’publisher’’ and post any news they like, audiences are starting to question where their sources are coming from and Gen Z seems to trust print publications over other media to deliver credible information.

In fact, Gen Z is far from abandoning physical products. Another study from American University looked at over 300 college students in four countries and found that 92% would rather do their coursework in print, as opposed to on tablets or computers. 

Is this true for you?

Magazine Media Factbook 2018-2019 states that in the United States, “The top 25 print magazines reach more adults and teens than the top 25 prime time shows. And, despite generational differences, magazine consumption is strong.”

Reverse Publishing

Did you know that Netflix prints a magazine?  How about Airbnb or that Amazon now prints a catalog? Facebook also has a printed special interest magazine now called, “Curated!”  Who would have known?

This has all started because of Reverse Publishing.  

Traditionally publishers would take their content from magazines and repurpose it online.  Now, many publishers will first publish online and then repurpose into print form. 

Travel Guides & Maps

Visitors Guide

Have you ever gone on a vacation and stopped at a visitor center to get information including maps, brochures and local guides?  Yes, we all know that our smartphones have maps and apps to tell us where to go and why but there is still a case for printed travel guides and mapTravel Guide 2020s.  When on vacation, some people want to go “off the grid” and try to separate themselves from their phone and prefer to look at traditional maps of a certain area they are visiting.  Other people prefer to see what the local media is showing vs. what their apps are telling them.  There have been case studies done that show on average, 79% of visitors picked up a printed publication and 85% of visitors became aware of an attraction or business as a result of picking up a print publication.   61% of visitors planned to purchase tickets or merchandise they learned about from a print publication and 73% of visitors would consider altering their plans because of a printed publication! 

Millennials like to “hold print in their hands, read it, smell it…save it, take it to the store with them, and share with friends.”



So, how much do you think it costs to publish a magazine?  Think about everything that goes into printing a magazine.  We have touched on just a few areas but there are so many more including editing, choosing paper, distributing, etc.  And one big component of running any type of media company is the advertising department.  The advertisers help offset costs associated with developing, printing and publishing and help the company make money!  Of course, there are positive outcomes for the advertiser as well, or else they would not pay to get their message out, would they?  There are many studies that show a few key takeaways for the publisher to use for selling their magazine to potential advertisers like:

  1. People trust print ads more than digital ads. 
  2. People recall print ads more than digital ads.
  3. Print ads last longer.
  4. Readers engage differently with print content.
  5. Helps advertiser build their brand image.

One last note, if you are unable to go to your local store and purchase a magazine, you can also access many national and local magazines through your local library!

Click here for Broward County's Library Access

Career Corner!

Content Producer.  Traditionally publishing companies would have a print team and a separate digital team of journalists and reporters.  Now many companies are shifting towards hiring “content producers.”

Typical job duties would include:

  • Finding newsworthy and breaking news content that resonates with their target audience
  • Quick turn-around on sourcing, researching and writing engaging content for a variety of events
  • Brainstorming and writing viral content and original feature articles
  • Develops and manages client relationships

Good qualities to possess for this job:

Have writing and language ability and a good general knowledge
Be curious and persistent
Be accurate, unbiased and objective
Work well with others
Have initiative and be resourceful
Be in good health and have physical stamina
Have a good memory
Have a good command of more than one of the official languages

Lesson Questions:

  1. What are your favorite magazines to read and why?
  2. Explain what “Reverse Publishing” is.
  3. Give an example of another online company that could create a printed material for their customers and why would you think this would be effective?
  4. Where would you like to go on vacation?  Look for this destination’s “convention and visitors bureau” and look to see if they send free printed materials in the mail.  Now, order them and enjoy dreaming about your next vacation!
  5. List some of the local printed magazines available where you live.  Do you normally get them in the mail?  Do you or someone in your family read them?  Do you keep them?