Print: kind of like the Titantic says New York Times publisher
It can be horrible getting caught on the hop and you find yourself answering with an off the cuff comment, which is what happened to New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr who came up with this nifty analogy for newspapers and, errrm, the Titanic.
New York Magazine were the guys on the spot. All they were asking was for a few tips for young people who want to go into journalism given the job market?
This apparently first elicited a laugh (I’m guessing a kind of nervous laugh as you might if you were about to make a lot of journalists unemployed).
“Um, what I would tell them is the industry is in the midst of a massive transition. But the core of the fundamental job is critical. We have to re-create ourselves, but the heart of what we’re going to re-create is still journalism. The way people get information is changing, but the need for information will remain constant.”
Then came the stuff about the Titanic. Yes, that’s right the big ship that sank with terrible loss of life (was he thinking of journalists?). To be fair he could have used any ship to power his analogy and, really maybe one of those still floating ones would have been better.
“The best analogy I can think of is — have you ever heard of the Titanic Fallacy? What was the critical flaw to the Titanic?”
Apparently it wasn’t icebergs and being a sinkable kind of unsinkable ship. No it wasn’t any of this it was trying to beat aeroplanes. He explained, carefully it seems, that even if the Titanic had make it to New York it didn’t matter as it was still doomed (but at least floating) as the Wright brothers had taken off 12 years earlier and invented the plane.
“We are trying to convert shipping companies to airplane companies. Same business: transporting people safely across long distances. There is still a very vibrant business in shipping. It’s just not taking masses of people across the Atlantic. It’s now taking families around the Seychelles, or something like that. There will still be passenger ships, but they’re not going to be in the same business. So print will still be here, I believe, decades from now. But will it be the driving force? No.”
So there you have it, newspapers are like holiday pleasure cruises. An occasionally thing you do once a year when you can tear yourself away from the interweb.