Reconsidering the Power of Print
Many conversations circle around the existence of print media and its culture today. It comes as no surprise with technological capability at the height that it is, having access to the same information we gather from published print, though at the tips of our fingers and the immediacy of our desire, that we find ourselves shifting from what feels dated to reliance on the digital. The conversations focusing on the behaviours of digital natives are tenfold—that is, there are many and they are subjective, but has all of this focus on the advancement of and discouragement from technology overshadowed the positive purposes of print media? What if we tilt that light, leaning it less toward technology and tilting it more onto print media, in order for us to see print media from a new perspective. In fact, what if we even went as far as to say print is giving rise to a new type of existence and function within the realm of media?
As things like the latest iPhone models and software updates occupy our focus, we’re influenced to think of tangible literature as nothing but a waste of both space and resources, neglecting the unique impact that tangible literature offers and doubting its effectiveness in comparison to all that flashes before our eyes on our palm-sized screens. Within this industry, us creatives want to stay relevant and remain both on trend while simultaneously, staying ahead of it. We look to things like the latest Pantone colours and what those around us are posting and discussing on social media. Our priority becomes not maintaining the trend but being aware of it and of what’s relevant while sticking to our own instinctual, creative decisions.
With all of that being said, what if we countered the common echo that print is dead? What if we used our boldness to challenge ourselves by stepping out of our natural perspective in which we interact with the things we create as the creators and in addition, interact with these things we create as the audience, too, experiencing our work in such a way that would give us the room to appreciate our work to its fullest.
Not too long ago, I worked as an editor publishing a print magazine for my home church. The magazine featured testimonies of the miraculous things God was doing in the everyday lives of people from our church. I edited the magazine just thinking it was something for our church members to grab on their way out on Sundays, for them to hold in their hands, for them to give a glance at later on at home, and eventually, for them to toss in the recycling until what would be my next media project launched and was available for them to interact with again, repeating the cycle. That’s how it goes, right? More recently though, when this former print magazine came up in a conversation I was having with a friend, my friend told me how she kept the magazine and used it as her devotional for many months afterwards. Soaking in its stories and featured scriptures from the Word, my friend leaned close in her personal time with God asking Him questions, learning more about His nature, and praying to Him using what was communicated in this magazine. Without doubting the potential and impact of the thing I had helped create, I never imagined it would be received and interacted with so intentionally. My friend sharing her experience with me removed me from my place as one of the magazine’s creators and filled me with wonder as I considered the magazine in its fullness as one of its readers, too.
Thinking about this magazine from a new perspective allowed me to reconsider the power of print. This reflection sparked a feeling of relation and unity to the generations of spiritual mothers and fathers of faith who have gone before us, writing down their stories and the things God was telling them to share. I thought back to our first Love, our Father, who wrote our very own stories to the likes of those of Moses who wrote the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone, and to those across the Church whose words have been fundamental in my own walk of faith, to the very idea that the print media we publish can used by God and for God, in a similar way. Quickly, it became clear to me that though digital media is prevalent in this day in age, print remains very far from dead.