Got Hacked? Time to Rethink The Uninterrupted, Incognito Power of Print

February 1, 2013

300x250promo So The New York Times computers were hacked! It is not the first time, nor will it be the last. The digital age has ushered in a new profession and a whole bunch of new professionals: hacking, and those hackers out there waiting to be hired. (By the way, those digital hackers have their own magazine, 2600, The Hacker Quarterly. It is a printed magazine to avoid being hacked, I guess).

Indulge with me for few lines before we go back to hackers and hacking. It is the perfect time to bring some common sense to our media thinking in this digital “ready to be hacked” digital world. It is time to talk about the power of print in a digital age. Picture 13

Picture 13Imagine that you’re reading your favorite magazine or newspaper online; the article has you totally captivated. Suddenly, between the reasons your significant other is cheating on you, and the downfall of your entire relationship, a pop-up ad appears and blocks the entire sentence from view. You’re frantic and angry. How dare this ad invade and interrupt your reading; who do these advertisers think they are? You’re the audience, the customer. Without you, there wouldn’t be a need for the website. Finally, trying valiantly to close the dratted blurb, you accidentally click on it and find yourself reading about antacid relief instead of how to save your love life.

Now while this may sound a bit dramatic and farcical, that isn’t the point. Reading magazines and newspapers online, or anything for that matter, is a far different experience than reading the printed counterpart. For one thing, the distractions, and for another, this one probably the biggest and most important reason; the explanation for that antacid ad popping up on your page in the first place: no privacy in the Big Brother world of the Internet.

Your choice of reading material is your own personal and private business, correct? Wrong, if you’re reading online. So, if you don’t want someone to know you perused the latest issue of Hustler, or hit Google for an article on “how to build a bomb” just because your curiosity got the better of you, you better pick those selections up in print. No eyes on that page but your own.

Without a doubt, anonymity does not walk hand in hand with you in the digital sector, because whether you realize it or not, those URL’s do have eyes.

How many times have you opened up your e-mail and saw that your inbox had 15 new arrivals, but your Spam had over 100? There’s a reason for that, of course. Those eyes that are constantly watching have been sending Morse code blinks back to the powers-that-be at headquarters, coordinating and compiling a list of simply irresistible items for you to spend your money on, custom-tailored to fit your needs. And while this, in and of itself, isn’t entirely a bad thing, it’s a total diversion that you simply do not need or want at all times.

Picture 6 And yes, I started this article with a reference to The New York Times’ computers being hacked. Well they are not alone. Ask yourself, have you ever been hacked? If so, then you know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you realize the security of your e-mails or social media sites have been compromised. It’s not a pleasant experience.

Another problem you don’t have to worry about with print. I promise you, the odds of your printed magazine or newspaper being hacked are slim to none.

And those public Wi-Fi connections that lure you with a latté and a delicious scone are another very dangerous environment if you don’t want miscreants and strangers getting access to your private information. The digital age can be both wonderful and costly, in more ways than one.

The beauty of the print experience, however, is personal and private. I guarantee, if you are following a recipe, step-by-step, on how to make that perfect soufflé, there will not be some advertisement for stomach acid covering up any of your steps. That ad will be artfully and quietly placed beyond the ingredients page. There will be no heated battle between your attention and the advertiser. It goes against the laws of magazine nature, where even the ads add significance to the experience.

Take Vogue, for example, the mere fact that you bought the title shows that you have no intention of skipping any ads. Simply put, with a publication like Vogue, chances are that part of the reason you’re buying it in the first place is the ads. It’s all about that print experience.

And advertisers are realizing this, as ad revenues for print are showing a healthy comeback.

Magazines can have a multitude of experiences between their covers, from the content adventures, to the visual encounters, to even the actual product itself. Print has always had that 3D effect – height, width and size. Sometimes the uniqueness of a magazine’s shape can be enough to classify it as its own special phenomenon.

But with digital, the product is whatever your screen size is, without exception. No matter how many layers you apply in digital, at the end of the day it’s still a flat shape.

And in no other medium besides print, will your customer actually admire and read the ads. Not even television. Other than the Super Bowl, where the ads have become a competitive event unto themselves; can you think of any other case where viewers actually want ads? The phrase channel-surfing came into existence with the invention of the TV remote and was probably coined while some poor, impatient viewer flipped past a dozen commercials.

And the power of print is there, in your face. You don’t have to shake your mouse, locate your website and then start closing pop-ups to scan the page for a story you want to read. The magazine’s cover has mouse-less access. Amazing, isn’t it? From beginning to end – the entire contents are encapsulated within its pages. The stories unfold at your pace and without anyone else seeing what you’re reading.

My grandson loves his iPad and all his digital paraphernalia. And well he should. It is a digital age and we all benefit from that fact. However, his mom and dad do regulate his time spent with all the gadgets. But when it’s bedtime and he wants a story to read, he doesn’t reach for his iPad and begin scrolling, he walks over to his bookshelves, into the real world of print, and selects a favorite title. It’s a timeless ritual for a child. A book, a real print book, means adventure into new worlds, color pages he can turn himself, characters that seem to leap off the pages, enabling him to trace their raised outlines.

There is no other experience like it, certainly not a digital screen.

And not once have I heard my grandson’s parents tell him to put down the book and stop reading, stop using his imagination.

That’s the power of print.

Picture 14
PS: This column was published on CommPRO.biz on January 31.


  1. Professor Husni
    This is one of your greatest posts. A veritable Masterpiece on the Magic of Print. Thank you for this thought provoking, to be treasured treat.
    Jeffry Martini

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