Living without print?

Some of you may already have seen Amy L. Webb's writeup of her 30-day experiment without "traditional" media? I'm a month late to it, encountering it tonight via an NPR story (and I encountered that by reading all the way through NPR's account of the L.A. Times/Tribune cost cutting feud).

I'm fascinated by Webb's article for a number of reasons:

One, a Sunday without a newspaper is an empty Sunday indeed! When my family has Sunday plans, and I skip my usual weekly couple of hours with a couple of newspapers, I actually get a little cranky inside.

I'm not feeling relaxed or looking forward to another hour of reading in bed. The digital version of my typical Sunday has left me wanting.
And what are our kids doing while my wife and I read the paper? Playing in Webkinz, a virtual world for youngsters. Granted, our boys are 8 and under, and at the very least the 8 year old asks me to save him the funnies, which he will read later in the day. Do I think his interest will graduate to the sports pages and beyond? Hard to say. If so, it will more than likely be because at the very least my wife and I are bringing the newspaper into the house regularly... so far....

Two, as an online junkie myself, I find myself at times with the same feeling of restlessness and listlessness that Webb describes.
I'm averaging about 14 to 16 hours every day online, and my head is hurting by the time I fall asleep. I'm antsy, much more impatient than I used to be. Worse, one of my closest friends this morning said that my attention span is "worse than a 2-year-old child's."
Over the last couple of yers, I've tried to force myself to read a book in bed before going to sleep. Granted, reading five pages at a time before falling asleep is not my preferred method to curl up with a good book. Worse, I've broken that habit lately (again). But after reading Webb's article, I realized the attempt was my subconscious way of relaxing my brains so I could fall asleep more easily. And it was working, too -- reason enough to kickstart the practice again.

Three, it's encouraging that the state of local news feeds from our broadcast competition in the big cities is not where it should be. So whatever broadcast competition we face at our tier of markets is further behind than that. We need to relentlessly exploit that advantage.
(To be fair, if you checked today, you'd probably find dozens of RSS feeds available on local news from local Web sites - but still, it's clear that our local venues have some catching up to do where Web technology is concerned.)
The stop dead moment?
I've concluded that the medium doesn't matter after all. After a month without any print or broadcast media, I can say with confidence that I could easily live without ever picking up a physical newspaper again.
In my conversations with people around the company and industry, I get asked from time to time, "How can we effectively promote the print product from the Web site? What can we promote?"

I usually respond by suggesting they promote the stories coming up in the Saturday and Sunday papers, because those days are when print still has an advantage over online.

I don't expect that advantage to last, and I'll be rendered speechless by that Web-to-print marketing question sooner than I'd like to predict.

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