A second, perhaps more striking example of the benefits of print that we could relate to this same cover is its quality as an objet and artifact. Think back to Sept 12th, 2001. We remember everyone scrambling to buy up every last newspaper and magazine on the shelves which depicted the events from the day before. To our knowledge, we don’t know of anyone who went straight to the internet and started taking screenshots of The New York Times’s website. There is something about the printed material that acts as a satisfying remembrance of whatever it contains. This could be seen as the reverse argument for the “permanence” of the page. Although things can easily be logged away on a hard drive it somehow doesn’t feel as sincere of a gesture when its cluttered with other things. Similarly, when you look at the homepage of a news organization, it will change day-to-day and sometimes hour-to-hour. It is often filled with ads, as well. Contrast that with the beautifully interrupted New Yorker cover you see above, with the single image and title. It has feeling of reverence to its subject. And this isn’t simply for 9/11 coverage — this same principle can apply to anything.
A parallel example we might be able to draw is between photography and videography. When video and cinema were introduced, people were fearful it would destroy the art of photography — that moving image and its thousands upon thousands of variations, would be more appealing to the audience than a static photographic image. And yet photography remains, as popular as ever. Why? Because it forces the perspective for the viewer into a single point in time and creates a single, poignant message or artifact of that image. This could be the same for print. A newspaper or magazine or even a book depicts its contents in a finite medium. There is a clear end (a static image) one can constantly refer to as a salient memory. The video (the web) by contrast, is filled with its constantly flickering images, change, and abundance. If you were to take a still frame from a video, or a screenshot from the web, it would feel less significant than that from a page in a book. Because with video, it is the collection of the whole which makes the subject meaningful whereas the single cover or narrative of a page needs to stand on its own and represent a much larger theme.
Perhaps we’re being a bit too poetic as we defend our dearly beloved book or magazine. As designers, it’s easy to feel an affinity for the object and the experience of flipping through a carefully crafted piece. But we think print need not worry about how it can modernize itself to stay relevant. It isn't about competing with digital. The task is to supplement it. By the very nature of the medium it will be in demand as a way to commemorate stories, events, or images.
What do you think? Is this a viable means for print’s survival? Or is it still doomed for failure, regardless?