Mario Garcia: Speaking of change of mentality

Here I was doing research for new mobile book, and I ran into this statement that is so real today.

I prefer to call it transformation these days, but it was called a change of mentality in 1997 when I wrote, Redesigning Print for the Web (Hayden Books). It was difficult then, it is still difficult today. Read on.

I spent a big part of my Sunday doing some writing on my new mobile book, The Story (see info below), and I wanted to revisit my earlier books as I plan to include a segment devoted to 25 curated principles of design that have worked for me for decades. In the process of revisiting the old books, I ran into page 23 of Redesigning Print for the Web. Indeed, it is early in a book of 240 pages that I tackle the issue of The Mentality of Editors.

Why? Because just like today, I already was encountering tremendous fear and apprehension on the part of people in the newsroom to adapt to the imminent changes brought about by the Internet.

The world in 1997

Here is what I wrote then:

"The question seems to be the same: why are some journalists in the newsroom of newspapers so reluctant to get involved with their online editions?"

It is a strange feeling to read my own words there, because we now know what the consequences were for newspapers where editors refused to get involved with online.

"The online operation of many newspapers has started without much input from the journalists in the print medium."

"The online operation has relied heavily on technical people to get the editon off the ground, giving this new medium an aura of technicality that traditional journalists rarely want to get involved with.

And, while it is a bit better today as newsrooms feel greater pressure to go digital, my experience is that many of the digital operations are still seen as the terrain of technical people in many newsrooms. It should not be. Real transformations occur when collaborations take place between editorial and technical types.

There exists a sense that the new medium of online electronic editions is a passive fad. Some traditional newspaper and even magazine journalists believe that the printed editions they produce will never be replaced.

Oh, God, I remember this well. And the consequences of such attitude. I must admit that today that sense of confidence among the print editors has turned to fear of print disappearing, and that is just as bad. The best attitude is one of various platforms coexisting with each other, with the editors organizing news rooms, work and copy flow to adapt to what each medium can do best.

"Tear down the walls..."

One of the first tasks of good online staffs is to tear down geographical barriers. Make sure that the online operation is physically close to where journalists work. In some newsrooms, even after this is accomplished, only geographical proximity exists, with psychological distance prevailing.

That was 1997. To think that the barriers still exist in so many newsrooms.

Have we not learned anything, or very little, in 32 years?

• The Story, by Mario Garcia, chief strategist for the redesign of more than 700 newspapers around the world is available for pre-order. Go to https://thaneandprose.com/shop-the-bookstore?olsPage=products%2Fthe-story

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