Print Media versus Digital Media

The history of the media industry is irrevocably intertwined with that of print media, as it remains the earliest form of media production.  Ever since the earliest moveable printing techniques emanating from China in the eleventh century, and the development of the moving press by Johannes Gutenberg much later in 1450, the industrialisation of the media and the commoditisation of media products began to take its course.  It is therefore understandable that early works from those periods are regarded as treasures and works of art, boasting a level of artisan craftsmanship no longer associated with the production of print media.

Today, the pre-production of print and digital media are quite similar.  A concept is conceived and researched by a producer, then scripted by an author using word processing software, or designed by a graphic artist using graphic design software, and is finalised using desktop publishing software.  At this point, the fees associated with the distribution of print media exponentially distanciates itself from that incurred through the distribution of digital media.  Printing costs, packaging, storage, handling fees, and freight charges are all important considerations when compared to the minimal expenditure incurred in the reproduction and distribution of digital media products.  Although network access, server space, and website maintenance all require important levels of investment, once in place, these assets can be utilised in the duplication and distribution of any digitised media product, past, present, and future.  These attributes make the digital media product easy to commodify, and furthermore, they allow for an instant commercial exchange to take place. There are however, instances when the distribution of print media is preferable to the globalised outreach inherent in a digital network, flyers, vouchers and leaflets are generally produced to inform a localised public of a particular event or special offer.

Projects (Examples available for download in the Documents page)

The coffee-table book project is in a way, designed to break with the traditionally simplistic, yet elegant stylisation afforded to other similar publications.  This was a purposeful consideration in that the book should reflect the advanced technology afforded to the sport.  The inclusion of statistics and a short sporting history of the Mercedes drivers serve to further the notion of competition.  My research consisted of studying examples for coffee-table books and motorsport event posters.  During production, the bulk of the work was done using InDesign although specialised graphics such as the F1-car shaped German flag and driver cut outs, were prepared using Photoshop.  The paperback book project was approached in an almost opposite way, in that the design represents a simple airport-type book or short novel, which I based on a fictitious journal.  The pages were simply laid out and in line with other similar publications, sporting a suggestive graphic as an opener for the chapter.  Font and font size selection for both books was based on a traditional approach for each publication type. 

The cheap throwaway style magazine project was designed to appear busy, and eye-catching in terms of colour co-ordination and images.  The use of polaroid-type pictures focuses the personality and honesty reflected in the original content, and helps the reader to identify with this.  The question-and-answer format of the piece is more in line with this type of publication and reader’s expectations, with questions printed in one colour and answers in the traditional black ink.   Pull quotes add further colour and visual diversity.  On the other hand, the high-end magazine project is a simpler and more elegant design to that of the cheap throwaway in that the emphasis is clearly on the text rather than on the one illustration.  The same original interview has been used in this design but in the form of a write-up, which would be more in line with what appeals to readers of this type of publication.  The design also bears a more sophisticated logo, date and page number which further intellectualises the overall look and feel of the magazine.

The newspaper front-page project, although based on a tabloid newspaper, also bears qualities more representative of a broadsheet.  The hybrid result can be attributed to the “red top” header style and sensationalist approach to the main headline pointing in the direction of a tabloid publication, whilst on the other hand, the condensed text and more factual reporting contained within being more reminiscent of a broadsheet style newspaper.  All the articles were researched and written by myself, specifically for this project. Font selection and size are based on the need to maximise the use of available space, and the need to be able to read “on the go”.

The poster was designed to advertise the 2014 British Grand Prix.  Having explored some previous examples of motor-sport event posters, and worked through a couple of exploratory drafts, the preferred approach was that of simplicity.  The information contained is factual and accurate, and is portrayed clearly by the use of a large, impact font selection.  The word British imposed over the Union Jack, and the red, white and blue colour scheme contained in the centre image, faithfully conveys the level of nationality afforded to the event, and instigates mass support for the British drivers.  Both of these features required a more specialised approach and were prepared using Photoshop.


There is a clear-cut case in favour of digital products as they benefit consumerism by significantly reducing the overall cost, allow instantaneous transactions, reduce storage requirements, and are as durable as they are interactive.  However, there are applications of print media such origami and pop-up books that, for the moment, cannot be faithfully replicated on a two-dimensional screen.  Studies have shown that the majority of consumers regard printed material more credible than what is perceived through the digital domain.  This, coupled by the fact that many lovers of literature embrace the purist and traditionalist ideals historically attributed to print media, brings me to conclude that print media still has a degree of relevance in today’s digital world. 

Christian Gadd (979 words).

Semester 2 (January – May 2014) : Print Media.


Flood, Alison (2013), ‘Decline in independent bookshops continues with 73 closures in 2012’ The Guardian [accessed 24th April 2014]

Hall, James (2012), ‘Bookshop numbers halve in just seven years’ The Telegraph [accessed 24th April 2014]

Hooper, Mark (2012) ‘Who Says Print is Dead?’ The Guardian [accessed 24th April 2014]

Abdul, Rob (2014) ‘Print Based Media vs. Digital Media’ Blog [accessed 24th April 2014]

Yeo, Jacqueline (2012) ‘Print VS Digital Media: The Death of Print?’ SPH Magazines [accessed 24th April 2014]

Moses, Lucia (2013), ‘As Digital Grows, Publishers Say Print Media Buyers Are Getting Cut Out of the Action Anybody need an ad page?’ Adweek [accessed 24th April 2014]


About Christian Gadd

Christian Gadd
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