Print, Screen, Beyond
Last Nov. 21, for our annual economic-forecast Q&A, I interviewed Bart van Ark, chief economist of The Conference Board, allowing time to transcribe and edit the feature.
A month later, after delivering more than a dozen presentations around the world and hearing feedback from member executives, Bart revisited his forecast and refined (not changed, he insisted) his views. I finalized the text.
But new and unexpected U.S. economic statistics and news arrived just after New Year's, and the TCB Economics team quickly became more optimistic about 2014's prospects. So in mid-January, Bart took a last look and made some further tweaks, just a few days before the Q&A hit your screen. The result is a global economic forecast that's more current and accurate than any we've published in the magazine's history.
How did we pull this off? Because, for the first time, we published our annual forecast not in print but only online. In fact, the entire Winter issue, which has always landed in subscribers' inboxes in mid-January, is instead exclusively at www.tcbreview.com. All of the articles, from senior editor Vadim Liberman's feature on workforce insecurity to John Buchanan's article on corporate risk to my Q&A with guru-maker Stuart Crainer, are thus far online-only.
In short: Effective immediately, we'll be publishing print editions every April and October, with content posted online throughout the year. Some of the articles will eventually appear in our April print issue, likely in updated form, but for now our website is the place to find them.
A good number of our readers will barely notice the change, considering younger generations' total comfort with consuming text on screens. But others may be less sanguine, considering that, according to our Fall 2012 reader survey, almost everyone is perfectly happy reading the magazine on paper, as they have since 1976, with the website as an adjunct. We're very much aware that a sizable percentage of our readers—and, at this writing, 100 percent of our editorial staff—remain stubborn holdouts against smartphones, much less iPads.
As someone raised on print—like, no doubt, most people reading these words now—I can't help finding the transition away from the availability of print disconcerting and even premature. I've written several times here over the years about how our typical reader consumes the magazine, beginning with tossing the latest issue in a briefcase for airport-lounge browsing before a business trip. From now on, except for those April and October issues, reading TCB Review will require some kind of screen, whether a tablet, a laptop, or a desktop. That means at least some people being left behind.
But the number of those people can only decrease: Before too long, everyone (including Vadim and me) will have a smartphone and a tablet—they'll be integral to daily business and life, as well as inexpensive. Increasingly, then, people will be able to read our articles whenever we post them, wherever they are.
This is important, though: We intend to turn this shift to our advantage, to become more urgent and vital and timely, to rethink our mission and our website to better serve readers and the organization, to emerge stronger. We'll work on figuring out optimal ways to present our articles both online and in print, for mobile devices as well as traditional readers.
We'll use our new flexibility to publish articles, author Q&As, and opinion columns as soon as they're ready rather than waiting for print deadlines. We'll look to produce more multimedia content, including more member-only webcasts.
To add value for subscribers and member executives of The Conference Board, the print edition will include features you won't find online. And we'll send monthly e-newsletters with links to new articles on the website, which is why it's important that you sign up for our mailing list if you're not already on it.
Now, no doubt many readers will adjust to this change with barely a thought, allotting TCB Review the same amount of attention as ever each month, or each quarter, only via different media. That's certainly our hope, anyway. As apprehensive as we are about publishing fewer issues every year—for us, this is a big change—we want this to be a positive development, a way to expand access to information and offer the magazine's readers more.
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