July 14, 2009
I recently took what ended up being a pretty magical excursion to one of New York City’s newest public spaces – Governor’s Island. As my co-workers here at CooperKatz can attest, I have been so ‘proactively verbal’ and enthusiastic about this trip that I’ve had to swear I am not being paid by the New York City tourist board or Parks department.
But since this is not a travel blog, let me get to the point. And that point is about media consumption habits in our fragmented, digital, hyperactive age.
I’d been hearing buzz about the renovations and general goings-on at Governor’s Island for some time now. It’s a pretty major civic project. And it’s not everyday that 172-acres smack in the middle of the NYC harbor becomes accessible to us average citizens.
Not surprisingly, a lot of this buzz was hitting me online through a variety of news and culture sources. Goodness knows, I do most of my media-consuming via desktop or mobile device these days – often 140 characters at a time. But it wasn’t the digital medium that got my husband and I out of our house in Queens, and onto an 11:00am ferry across the harbor one Sunday morning. It was – hands down – a magazine. New York Magazine to be exact.
The recession is unquestionably hammering the magazine industry. And this, in turn, is again prompting those familiar questions about the long- (and short?) term viability of the print medium. Several years ago, when the Web 2.0 conversation was new, pronouncements of print’s utter demise were in some ways more common than they are today. Today, those pronouncements may actually be more relevant – given the financial pressures under which most print titles are struggling. But I also think that many of us interested in the evolution of the media landscape see a future role for physical vehicles like magazines in consumers’ lives – a role that perhaps can’t be totally filled by digital replacements.
This thought was writ large again for me, as I reflected on how (and what) turns buzz into action in my own life. New York Magazine’s three page feature on Governor’s Island – filled with maps, behind the scenes insights and helpful tips – ended up being more relevant, more timely and more ‘actionable’ for me than any other channel. The issue was stuck in my bag as I boarded the ferry, and was particularly useful when I found my blackberry connectivity to be less than reliable (a harbor dead zone?).
I’m clearly not the only one feeling the lingering appeal of print. As I explored the historic buildings and sunny lawns, I saw more than a few hands clutching their own copies of that same New York Magazine issue.
I won’t stake a claim here on the macro future of the whole print medium. But the relevance and analog intimacy of the right periodical for the right moment is still a media relationship that’s hard to beat.
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