On Saturday, November 15, 2014, Newcity editor and co-publisher Brian Hieggelke was invited to address the Arts Club of Chicago as part of its ongoing “Case” series. What follows is a transcript of his remarks.
Back in the nineties, I was convinced that the future was grim for print publications. That the impending digital revolution would be wholly transformative, and that to not do something about it would not only be financial suicide, but would leave me on the outside looking in at the greatest technological, social, cultural, political and lifestyle revolution perhaps in history. So I decided to bet the ranch as they say and pour every bit of profit we made, and every bit of future profit I could borrow, into creating a network around the digital transformation of alternative newspapers, as publications like Newcity were then called.
I logged thousands of miles by plane and by car over those years in pursuing this mission, visiting publications from Vermont to New Orleans and many parts in between. And I frequented many an industry conference in those years, primarily organized around daily newspapers and their digital endeavors. It was a regular occurrence at those conferences, held in the days before tablets and smartphones, for some industry leader to get up and to smugly summarize the irrefutable case for print: You Can’t Take Your Computer Into the Bathroom and as long as that was the case, print would survive.
I could not help but chuckle when I heard this; these folks had such diminutive aspirations for the products they were devoting their lives to.
A recent study called “IT in the Toilet” found that 75 percent of us admit to using our phones in the bathroom, for calls, texts, social media and so on. Sounds like the core argument in favor of print, as distasteful as it was, has been flushed away by time.
I’ve been thinking a long time about the role of print in a digital world, and hope that my observations today will not be so disposable. Read the rest of this entry »