Digital transition: publishers' staff delusion

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

The PPA‘s CEO Barry McIlheney thinks that much of the work on the digital transition has been done:

He says he doesn’t hear publishers talking as much about the challenges of moving staff to digital as he used to. “I think a lot of the heavy lifting has now happened, and a lot of the realignment of roles and people has taken place. I also think that any ‘refuseniks’ who simply wouldn’t move with the times have now gone.”

Difficult to tell if he’s delusional or his members are, but that’s so far from the experience of many people within publishing businesses that it’s quite shocking that someone would say that.

As I’ve said before, digital isn’t a one-off tech shift, like the move to desktop publishing was, it’s an on-going process of change and evolution. Being the “digital” of three years ago is completely useless to you now – because you’re not thinking about things like mobile or tablets.

Oh, look, I actually say it in the self-same article:

The issue of continuous change is key for Tinworth. “The digital landscape is evolving constantly – How old are iPads? Three years? Look how they have and are continuing to evolve the market.”

He thinks it’s dangerous to underestimate the scale of the change we’re going through. “This isn’t just a technology adoption cycle we’re passing through – like the arrival of desktop publishing was – but a fundamental shift in how information is created, consumed and remixed. We’re still in the early stages of that transition, not the end game.”

Thanks to Peter Houston for interviewing me for the piece.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.