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A 21st Century Dilemma: Print Vs Pixel

If you believe the hype, the Internet is pure unadulterated evil. It is single handedly assassinating every major industry, every business and everything enjoyable in the world. This cold blooded creature sneaks up and attacks when the backs are turned...

If you believe the hype, the Internet is pure unadulterated evil. It is single handedly assassinating every major industry, every business and everything enjoyable in the world. This cold blooded creature sneaks up and attacks when the backs are turned; it created Amazon to kill the brick and mortar business, it stealthily bred iTunes to knock off HMV and it created The Huffington Post to kill the printed newspaper. It has no feelings, the binary coding stalks its victims and humiliates them by stealing their advertising revenues. Those that criticise the Internet (I am not exempt) often forget that there are humans behind the HTML, and the only difference between a traditional business and an online business is that the latter realises that the future is in the cloud. For a while it may have been debatable about the implementation of the Internet into everyday life, but these days it is common knowledge that it is time to adapt or die - everything is online. Books, music, companies. Hell, even your granny.

But this does not mean that more 'traditional' media cannot still exist. Sure, the UK magazine industry is in steady decline, with the US following in the trend almost parallel. But for anyone that analyses the trends of companies moving online, this has always seemed inevitable. Even so, certain forms of the medium remain, and some have even thrived. Yes, I am talking about the 'niche' publication. Like vinyl before it, there seems to still be a demand for the printed product. The popularity of niche magazines rests on them appealing to a smaller, but equally hungry, audience. The only question is, in the age of the iPad, is there a sufficient demand for printed content?

I am soon to find out, as the end of this month I am releasing a new print publication into the public sphere. Not that anyone reading this is likely to pick up a physical copy as it is going to be placed in independent retailers across Belfast, Northern Ireland, and sold for the steep price of free. In any case, this blog is not intended to be an attempt at promotion, instead it is only my feeble opinion on why I am risking a lot - potentially - on a medium that many are claiming to be dead.

I should note at this point, that I have on my CV a shiny, almost never used, marketing degree. Not that I am bragging, who doesn't have a marketing degree these days? It is only of note because it ever so slightly proves that my mind is somewhat rational. Yet here I am about to start a print publication. What madness has overcome me? I am trained to think in terms of SWOT analysis, risk assessments and financial planning. But the allure, as well as the physicality of print has convinced me that it is the right route for my content. The Internet has given us information, and while that could not possibility be condemned, I feel that for certain types of writing/journalism, an online version can sometimes lose impact and is at times too easy to click away from. Some readers may quickly succumb to checking the emails, updating the Facebook or scrolling YouTube for cute animals doing cute tricks. Perhaps the human mind has evolved alongside the technology, but I can't help but feel the writing I plan to publish is better printed in ink rather than published in pixel. So, like the fool that denies the past while having lived through it, I am willingly choosing to ignore the warnings.

You may ask what heavenly content I am planning to publish that demands such attention. Here's the thing. In the grand scheme of things, it is no different to many that have existed in some shape or form before mine. The magazine is going to cover local politics, arts and culture. Indeed, topics that are not exactly innovative. However, within the niche that we are aiming for, it has the potential to ride the crest of a wave all the way to the top - which is to say a moderate, repeating readership. Oh, hello understatement. There is a blossoming culture of comedy, music and photography in Northern Ireland that we can provide a journalistic outlet for. We will publish student art, left leaning political opinion/comment and have interviews with local politicians. In my country, there is a significant proportion of the public that I feel will want to read this content. The demographic of the 'silent majority' in Northern Ireland should not be underestimated. It consists of those voices usually drowned by the more hardline attitudes. It is the atheists, the secularists, the left wingers. Basically anyone that believes that the petrol bomb is less important than being able to walk to the shops without the threat of violence.

I know this can be achieved by starting a WordPress blog, but by ignoring the easy route and putting in real effort (and the hours) we will be able to provide a product directly into the hands of our readers. And this effort will hopefully be appreciated. Publishing a magazine is hard work. It takes hours of sitting in front of the computer and many more writing, organising, reading and interviewing. But once you start to see the results, it is worth every second. I honestly believe that people respect the written word, and even though my trained marketing brain is screaming at me to turn around, there is another voice that is gaining traction. It is saying to hell with financial planning, forget about risk assessments and do what feels right. There is a (very high) chance I will look back in five years, in the midst of the inevitable global print apocalypse and weep into my paper printouts. It may seem like the height of hypocrisy writing about my desire for print in an online newspaper, but I must stress that I am not anti - Internet. We will be using social media. We will have downloadable PDF files. We may even get one of those email addresses you hear so much about.

You can follow me on Twitter: @Jason_A_Murdock

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