Innovation in Print Media

The Future is NOW: Two Examples of Innovation in Print Media

by PR Warrior

One thing that continues to occupy the minds of senior executives at major (print) media houses is how to not only survive today’s ever evolving new media world but to thrive in it.

Here are two examples of innovation in media.One is a newspaper company that is attempting to redefine itself as a ‘digital first’ organisation, the other is a magazine format created for the iPad.

Journal Register Company

Mid last year John Paton, chief executive of the Journal Register Company, heralded a new direction for the company – ‘Digital first, print last’.

JRC is not a small concern – it publishes 19 daily newspapers among its 170 print titles and also has 154 online sites.


Interestingly, the company was in bankruptcy when Paton and Co. took over. A year later it had made a profit of $41 million while at the same time blazing a trail of innovation.

Some of the measures Paton has initiated include:

  • issuing 1000 Flip cameras to its reporters so they can video record the news as well as write about it;
  • appointing an advisory board consisting of three eminent thinkers on ‘new journalism’, including Jeff Jarvis, author of ‘What Would Google Do?’ and the blogger who in 2005 was at the centre of the ‘Dell Hell’ online firestorm;
  • experimenting with a number of community initiatives designed to get the public more involved with its newspapers (and the process of news gathering itself) – for example The Register Citizen Open Newsroom Project (which includes a Newsroom Cafe, Community Journalism School and a Community Media Lab);
  • setting up the Ben Franklin Project, an experiment that provides JRC the opportunity to “re-imagine the newsgathering process with the focus on Digital First and Print Last”;
  • establishing ideaLab whereby a group of JRC journalists are “charged with experimenting with the latest technology and tools to help our company think differently about what we do and how we do it”.

John Paton not only embraces digital technology but also the open and transparent ‘mindset’ required to make it work effectively in a large organization. This is what makes a difference. The digital tools are all well and good, but it is the open attitude and progressive thinking (led from the top of the company) that is driving this cultural shift.

Paton’s blog Digital First chronicles his efforts in transforming JRC. It is essentially a dialogue with staff about the journey they’re all going on, but is shared openly with the public as well. Well worth a read if the topic of media reinvention is of interest to you.

Project Magazine

Project is an exciting initiative of Virgin Digital Publishing with content that focuses on design, entertainment, technology and entrepreneurs. It’s a web-enabled multimedia version of a traditional magazine, created specifically for the iPad viewing experience. It’s pretty cool!


Basically, Project brings ‘life’ to the reading experience.

The front cover becomes a video (see below).

Stories have extra dimension (one travelogue piece on Berlin, for example, features a 3D map).

Links are scattered everywhere, and readers are able to submit comments on stories.

Plus there’s a blog.

Lots of reading goodness in one iPad package. Long may it live/grow/prosper!

PROJECT Issue 4 – featuring Eric Bana from PROJECT on Vimeo.

PROJECT Issue 4 – featuring Eric Bana from PROJECT on Vimeo.