Environment Report 2011: Introduction

The battle lines are drawn. Print will no longer accept its de facto position as whipping boy to the trendier upstart digital media. It's going to fight back and it's prepared to fight dirty. The question is: does print really want to go toe-to-toe with its electronic rival, and if it does, is this a war that print can win?

The answer on both counts is ‘probably not’, as highlighted in our feature on ‘How should print’s green giant go on the offensive’. The industry faces this problem partly because digital media have found massive acceptance among consumers and partly because they cost less – in fiscal terms at least; their toll on the environment has yet to be properly assessed.

But print can’t afford a war on two fronts, firstly because it has already been blighted with commodity market status – so who wants to take on another price-focused fight? Secondly, to win the hearts and minds of consumers, print would first need to prove that digital is not as green as people think (and all the evidence suggests that people know very little and care even less about its green credentials).

Print’s key strength is, when used correctly, its effectiveness as a communications medium. The industry is awash with statistics to back this up. It’s all about ROI; whether it’s a printer looking at reducing waste or investing in kit or facilities to reduce its environmental impact and improve its efficiencies, or a marketer considering what platforms to use for an upcoming campaign, it all boils down to the same three letters.

Environmentally, print has a great story to tell, so I wholeheartedly agree that we should shout it from the rooftops. But surely it needs to be done in a way that focuses on the many positive attributes of print and not just on the negative aspects of rival communication methods, especially when we should be making friends of them not enemies.
Because if we’re not careful, we might win the odd battle, but ultimately lose the war.

Darryl Danielli, editor, PrintWeek


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