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November 2009

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UST MBC Director’s Memo – 11.09

Yesterday the Minneapolis Star Tribune ran a nice article about Glenn Karwoski, who has served as an adjunct instructor in the UST MBC Program for over 14 years. (http://www.startribune.com/business/69438047.html?elr=KArks:DCiU1OiP:DiiUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aULPQL7PQLanchO7DiUr). His connection to the program was featured most prominently in the “side bar” (http://www.startribune.com/business/69438042.html?elr=KArks:DCiU1OiP:DiiUiacyKUUr), which I would likely have missed completely if not for seeing the print version and subsequently digging for the link to this “related” content.
Like many people, it’s been many years since I regularly picked up a hard copy of the newspaper. I generally check in at the Strib Web page a few times a day for breaking news or weather updates, but when I do pick up a hard copy in a waiting room, the hard news all seems a bit stale – mostly because I read it the night before.
In picking up the business section yesterday to see the half page lead to Glenn’s story, and turning to the “jump” on page three, I was reminded of the aesthetics of print reproductions of journalism. When we read online versions of stories it is often in one long vertical column, or a series of similar pages. In print, the layout of the copy around pictures and sidebars provides different, if not additional, context to the story. For the seasoned reader, the placement of the story and proportional size of pictures and other elements communicates something about the importance of the piece, relative to other stories in the section – a reflection of editorial perspective.
In relation to this, there is a permanence in that subtle statement of value in print, in that this story will always command a half page on the business section cover in the paper archives. In contrast, Glenn’s story garnered a link from the main landing page of the Star Tribune for a few hours, and similarly held a lead position on the business page before being bumped down the ladder by breaking news. Plus, the business section doesn’t even own a key story link section on the main page anymore – one has to dig for a link. It will eventually take up residence in the archives, in uniform formation with all the other stories and brought back to be viewed devoid of any context from the day it first appeared. What does all that say?
It says that the way we consume journalism today is different. For some it may seem less sophisticated, in the social sense, and arguably most people have stepped away from perusal of the news over eggs and toast. In exchange, we have new tools for searching for and creating our own context online. Regardless of your perspective or value judgments associated with the subject of print vs. new media, that ship has long since sailed. For professional communicators, however, it should suggest that we be mindful of not just the changing face of media distribution and consumption. Some of our stakeholders might be late adopters (or never adopters) of these new channels, so we should not forget to find means to communicate with them in spite of the newest media options.