A month ago I released my first of what will be a series of articles that explore, interpret and discuss the future of print in our industry and beyond. The first article (which you can read here) detailed my background within the print industry as well as shared the viewpoints and predictions of magazine art director Stacy Jarvis.
In efforts to provide you with a contrast in this the second piece, I had the opportunity and pleasure to speak to Helen Vong who after working in the print media for 5 years, including being the former Nutrition Editor of Oxygen, decided to start her own online media outlet TheSkiny.com.
James Patrick: What was your deciding factor to leave print media and grow an online media channel?
Helen Vong: I was growing complacent with the slower pace of the magazine world and wanted to explore the more active medium of online publishing. Luckily I met an investor with a great idea and the same desire to execute it online.
While I will always appreciate getting lost in a meaty author-driven story, which is often the case with the writing style for print, I feel more engaged at this stage in my career developing online content—which I feel is more reader-driven and hence is more effective at influencing consumer and lifestyle choices, big and small.
JP: What are some trends you have seen in print media and the emergence of digital?
HV: Web and print teams now work collaboratively from story conception, production, and postmortem to achieve the same goal. The role of a magazine or newspaper editor has evolved; It’s no longer just about how the story lives in the magazine, they have think of how it can live on the web via videos, images, supplemental stories, etcetera. Being creative and cheeky with words is not enough anymore.
JP: Now working in an online world – how has your approach in what you do changed?
HV: I’m more strategic in my approach to story creation now. This is largely due to the fact that my boss is a successful businessman who gives me creative license but encourages me to always look at the bigger picture.
JP: What are your predictions of where you see the print industry going?
HV: I’m going to geek out a bit here; I’ve been watching a lot of Michio Kaku’s videos on YouTube. He’s an American physicist who talks about the future of technology, and in his video “The World in 2030” he mentions Moore’s Law, which states that computer power doubles every 18 months. In 2020, computer chips will cost a penny and everything around you, from the walls to paper, will be interactive. Imagine flipping through your favorite magazine – say a fitness magazine, for instance – and you see an exercise you want to try but you’re not sure how to execute it correctly. In the future, the paper that the magazine is printed on will be encoded with technology that enables a virtual personal trainer to pop up upon request. That’s when I’ll go back to “print.”
Special thanks to Helen Vong for being interviewed for this feature!