Posted by: East and West | 2009/05/21

McLuhan to Utko

The demise of the daily newspaper is a hot topic. But does the daily have to die? Like so many people who have been buffeted by the challenges of the economy, can it not reinvent itself?

Jacek Utko is an architect turned newspaper designer who has reinvented a number of Eastern European newspapers. Each of these dailies have gotten a new look and a new twist on content. They’ve won design awards. More importantly, they have greatly increased readership.

Utko is using his talent for architecture to reconstruct the newspaper, and to make it more marketable. He has made his redesigned dailies a manifestation of Marshall McLuhan‘s proclamation that “the medium is the message.” Subscribers are buying Utko’s papers — not just the content, but the form as well. The readers of these papers would not have bought content without the form.

And the content itself has morphed from a recitation of facts to analysis. The facts themselves take another form, one that both engages the reader and challenges the reader to find the raw data.

When “the medium is the message” was launched in 1967 I was too young to grasp the concept. As I have gotten older, I understand it a bit better and have started noticing how it can be applied in today’s daily experience.  And I wonder how the concept can transform my job as a marketer.

Will I apply Utko’s principles to the news releases and media advisories I produce? Will press materials become even more aggressively positional in the guise of analysis? The media have progressively become more pressed to produce content that over the years they have relied more heavily on their trusted sources. Perhaps the question to ask is not IF I will utko my press materials, but WHEN.

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