Where digital and print meet

The decision to integrate print and digital media was not an easy one

Hassaan Khan April 12, 2015

At The Express Tribune, we don’t see print and digital mediums as competing entities. We see them as part of providing a much more engaging and in-depth news experience.

Being a former print man, I can attest to how the separation between the two media greatly limited the free flow of information and ideas between the two entities.

Why should a consumer even care about this separation?  To put it simply, the reader is the biggest loser if this scenario persists, since editorial decisions will continue to disregard the evolution of readers.

The decision to integrate print and digital media was not an easy one. Up until recently, it seemed almost impossible. But somewhere along the line, we started having our very own tiny eureka moments. Moments that gave us hope and made us push harder than ever before to break down the existing barriers between the two mediums.

On January 20, CNN conducted an interview with DG ISPR Asim Bajwa. The interview was picked up verbatim by all digital news outlets with the generic and oft seen headline, “Pakistan: ‘We’ll eliminate terrorism ... from our soil.”

Worn-out by recycling the same story over and over again, the desk managed to get its hands on the transcript of the interview. Here’s what we found: a question by veteran CNN journalist Amanpour on the army’s capability to fight terrorism riled the DG ISPR, who termed it an ‘insult’.  That was the story. And it was picked up by every national newspaper and TV channel the next morning.

On March 18, the day before Saulat Mirza was to be executed, Karachi correspondent Rabia Ali became the first reporter to speak to the notorious target killer’s wife for an exclusive story that we carried on our website. The story titled “Saulat’s love: The woman behind Karachi’s most notorious target killer” went viral in every sense of the word and led to numerous follow-ups by TV channels. Later that day, Saulat’s now infamous confessions video was released by a private news channel.

In both cases, web journalism had managed to penetrate the behemoths of TV and print. It wasn’t long before we stopped running behind reporters and reporters stopped running away from us. We stopped convincing editors about the importance of web and editors stopped convincing us otherwise.

So, what is the digital team doing at The Express Tribune? We are listening; listening to our readers more than we have ever before. Editors, reporters and publishing houses can chose to ignore this unique opportunity to tap into their readers’ minds, but they should do so at their own peril.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2015.


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