Welt Kompakt creates Scroll Edition
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Welt Kompakt presents Scroll Edition – Printed Internet? With a so-called "Scroll Edition" the Axel Springer publishing corporation conducted a “unique media experiment” on 1 July and published a special edition of Welt Kompakt (the little sister of the German national daily newspaper, Die Welt). The product is unusual in several respects: Firstly, the news stories were not written and compiled by professional newspaper journalists, but by “bloggers, tweeters, etc.”, as indicated in the deck. Secondly, the copy must be turned 90 degrees (back margin up) before it can be read.
“Help, we are printing the Internet” is the heading of the editorial. Indeed, the layout does somewhat resemble the screen display of a news website. Turning a page straight away demonstrates what is meant by a scroll edition: The articles are not presented in typical newspaper page layout style, i.e. weighted by their position on the page, the size of headings and text length, but are arranged one below the other in a broad text field covering more than two-thirds of the page area, presented as unformatted solid text in uniform typography, without paragraphs and subheadings though with many photos (in differing quality). The reader almost automatically reaches for the mouse to scroll the text upwards … however, he must still turn over the page, though in this case from bottom to top.
On the right, beside the main text area, are two narrow columns, similar to orientation bars. One of the columns is used for additional information concerning the articles arranged alongside and about their authors, the other for brief items compiled from blog contributions.
Is that “printed Internet”? Whereas that may be true in relation to the contents, it is not so for the actual character of the medium that can be copied in several optical characteristics at most – but no more than that. Each medium has its own special strengths, but also weaknesses. Bringing together the two worlds, Internet and newspaper, therefore always means a compromise. Nevertheless, the project was worthwhile because it gives rise to a mutual interest among the user groups, while at the same time highlighting the benefits of each medium: fast information, reactions and opinions, unfiltered and from all over the world, with the possibility to join in via the Internet. Researched and verified news, comments and articles, written or prepared by journalists, weighted and put on pages in the newspaper. Is that how the newspaper of the future will look? Probably not.
It is neither certain that blogger will (or want to) secure for themselves a fixed place in the printed newspaper, nor that the Internet will continue to be such a paradise for news. A great deal is possible and allowed in the Internet that will remain out of bounds for a print product. In contrast, publishers have the possibility to operate both print and online and thus benefit from synergies.
It is expected that the various types of media – including mobiles and e-readers – will drift apart rather than move closer together. The Internet has topicality and interactivity on its side. The newspapers has other qualities that it can and should turn to its advantage (e.g. credibility and competence at regional level). It is not the mixed medium, but the media mix, i.e. mutual supplementation, that gives the added value.
It would be worthwhile to test the innovative format with the vertical two-page spreads, as this could benefit travellers and commuters on public transport by enabling them to open out the print newspaper without disturbing the person sitting next to them.