A philosophical question

April 27, 2010

I (and some of my colleagues) have been pondering a question lately, and I’d like to hear your opinion on it.

The question? Why is it that print editors are so often seen as having the expertise to oversee a magazine website, whereas web editors aren’t seen as able to oversee (or, often, even contribute to) print?

After all, many web editors have print experience – if not as creators, then certainly consumers. And definitely more print experience than web, perhaps unless they’re very young. I, for instance, have been a voracious reader of print magazines for 20 years or so – and the internet’s only been around for about 15.

What do you think is the reason behind this? Am I wrong? Do you see the situation changing?

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4 Responses to “A philosophical question”

  1. Corinna Says:

    I think the viewpoint extends from how most people view the two mediums: Print is long-established and the “serious, real business.” Web, on the other hand, is the “younger upstart, dominated by fresh young faces who are really just experimenting their way through it to see what works.”

    Because of the cost of producing print, why, some publishers might think, would they entrust an expensive endeavour to someone who will just experiment their way through the money?

    Really, I think it comes down to most publishers still not understanding the web and therefore not having a good understanding of what strengths a web editor may be able to bring to print.

  2. Adam Ledlow Says:

    I think Corrina’s hit the nail on the head. I’m lucky enough to play both managing editor and Web editor, but I played the print editor role for three years before I was entrusted with Web duties. Since I’m still in my 20s, I guess that makes me fit into the “young upstart” category with a mind more suited to Web than the rest of the print dinosaurs at the company (no offense, gang).

    I think I’m in that transition age group where we didn’t do a LOT of Web stuff in journalism school, but did enough that I can get by in both mediums. But I know for a fact that schools like Humber are making a big push towards Web-based studies in preparation for the iPad revolution in magazines. Those students will be the ones to lead the future of magazines while the rest will have to catch up or get phased out.

  3. Amanda Vogel Says:

    I work as a magazine writer, not editor, but I wonder if it comes down in part to the magazine industry just beginning to view a magazine’s website as a place to publish distinct content versus simply slapping articles from the print magazine onto the corresponding website.

    Ultimately, I imagine web and print editors will (or already do?) work together more closely to create a brand that crosses over from print to web and, soon, the iPad.

  4. Rebecca Says:

    I think there’s also a very structured aspect to magazines that makes a huge difference in the psychology of how they’re run. From the titles to the lingo to the process that is observed more or less across the industry, magazines have very specific rules in play that online publications either haven’t created yet, or never will.
    For that reason, if someone doesn’t have print experience, editors may question where or how someone from the web fits in.
    Personally, I think this is a mistake – there’s no reason to make a distinction between great content no matter where it’s being created, but the old-school mentality may be keeping some print editors from discovering that for themselves.


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