Tina Brown on Print Media: ‘It’s 1929. What Can I Say?’

Wow, a Catholic, a Muslim, and a Jew! Don't see that on the same team every day. Photo: Patrick McMullan

At a private screening of the documentary “Dominick Dunne: After the Party,” media patriarch Harry Evans mused on the future of print. “Fifty million people a day buy newspapers, so, you know, it’s the Mark Twain story — rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated,” he said. “Print has a viability, and because of the association with magazines and newspapers having established their credibility, print carries that aura of authority.” He put forth a possible financial model: “One answer of course is to charge a lot more than we do, because they’re given away, basically. I mean, you get the New York Times for $1.50. I would pay $3. The Wall Street Journal is $2,” Evans added. And yet, he believes the future lies in the Web, whose immediacy and flexibility and accessibility he finds overwhelmingly appealing. “My view is that the future of long-form journalism will be in print, and the short-form will be on the Web.” But take that with a grain of salt. “I’m a historian; I’m usually in the business of recording the past, so I’m not reliable about the future.”

Evans’s wife, Tina Brown, didn’t offer specifics, but she concurred. “I love print and I’m so sad to see it all kind of collapsing, but I do believe that things will regroup in a different shape,” she told us. Brown, who recently started her own online publication, bluntly explained the economic outlook for print media. “It’s 1929. What can I say?”