Is there a future for printed newspapers and books? How can publishing houses and editorial departments deal with the digital shift? These were some of the questions discussed by the around 60 regional participants of the third part of the Leuphana University ANALOG event-series in Lüneburgs City Archive. Following an invitation by the Innovation-Incubator research project Hybrid Publishing Lab at the Centre for Digital Cultures (CDC), peers and experts from all across the media industry joined the interested public in a discussion about the digitization of media. The event was marked by an exchange of experiences in the publishing world, and the aim was to name and face current challenges in the thick of digitization.
Andreas Bernhard, spokesperson of the Centre for Digital Cultures, initialized the evening with welcoming words and then handed over to Mercedes Bunz, director of the Hybrid Publishing Lab. Bunz then strikingly went on to illustrate how pervasive the changes in publishing through the digital turn really are. The new electronic alternatives defy the traditional methods of the publishing industry and the printed word is faced with inimitable challenges. Nonetheless, as Bunz states, technologies such as print-on-demand and forms of online distribution also bear many great possibilities for printed media.
These possibilities and challenges were addressed in the following keynote by Ulrike Teschke, commercial director of the ZEIT publishing group in Hamburg. In the keynote, she used the ZEIT publishing house as an example to demonstrate how “in times of digitization the need for classification and orientation grows”. According to Teschke, this provides opportunities for new business models. However, she stressed the point that publishing houses should not disregard the quality of their work, continue to utilize new journalistic methods and possibilities and use the multiplicity in current business models profitably.
In the following panel discussion titled ‘Digital or Print? The Future of Paper-Based Media’ Ulrike Teschke and Peter Bauer, chief-editor of the Bremen newspaper “Weser-Kurier“, were two of several attending representatives of the print and book industry. One thing Bauer could say with certainty. “Whoever does not embrace the convergence of the digital and the analogical will clearly disappear from the market”. The internet as a broad field open for experimentation is a great opportunity, however it will not be able to replace printed media. “We still need good content to get ahead”, urged Bauer. Teschke agreed. Other panelists included Stefanie Thörmer of the “Alte Jeetzel” bookshop and publishing house and Andreas Jörß, CEO of the von Stern’schen printing house with a history that goes back more than 400 years. The industry insiders collectively discussed, how coorperations in the regional area of northern Lower-Saxony can face the digital turn, but also pointed out deficiencies that had happened in the past. Even with those previous pricey experiments in the equation the panelists concurred. “Digital media are a great opportunity, even if there might have been too little investment in the past”.
After the discussion the event came to an end with snacks and refreshments and gave excellent opportunities to reflect debate at some nice talks.