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Apple’s New iPad to Boost Already Growing Digital Publishing Trends

Jan. 27, 2010

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Roger Fidler is the program director for digital publishing at Reynolds Journalism Institute

Roger Fidler is the program director for digital publishing at Reynolds Journalism Institute.

COLUMBIA, Mo. ­— With the increasing prevalence of the Internet during the past decade, the print media industry has seen a major slide in circulation and profits. Apple’s announcement Wednesday introducing its new mobile device, iPad, as well as the rise in popularity of e-readers such as Amazon’s ‘Kindle’, has given print industry experts a reason to be optimistic. Roger Fidler, the program director for digital publishing in the Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) at the University of Missouri, believes the new generation of tablets and e-readers holds a bright future for print media.

“Everyone now recognizes that the future of publishing is digital. We are positioning RJI to play a major role in the adoption of digital media for journalism and advertising.”

The newly-introduced Apple iPad will head the next generation of mobile devices capable of incorporating digital media. The iPad’s color screen display, wireless Internet access and portability will create new opportunities for publishers to present more visually compelling content for online newspapers and magazines.

Currently, Fidler believes the main obstacle standing between widespread use of tablets and e-readers as a news platform is the lack of advertising packaged with editorial content.

“The current generation of e-readers are all black and white and are pretty un-compelling visually, with just one column of text,” Fidler said. “The Apple iPad will put pressure on e-reader vendors, such as Amazon and Sony, to speed up development of full-color electronic paper displays. You’ll start seeing more visually rich editions with multicolumn formats before the end of this year.”

Fidler said he believes publishers will make serious commitments to produce editions for these devices and that advertising will be incorporated possibly by the end of this year. He believes full-color displays are essential to attract advertising.

Fidler heads the Digital Publishing Alliance (DPA), an organization he started at the RJI in 2006 to bring together publishers such as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post in order to pursue new digital content products and business models. His hope for the DPA is that it will find ways for news organizations to profitably adapt their content for tablets and e-readers.

“Newspapers and magazines recognize that these display devices, particularly the letter-sized devices, may represent the future of publishing, so we are exploring presentation standards for editorial and advertising content and the ways advertising can be brought into these devices,” said Fidler.  

Fidler has been working on the concept of portable electronic reading devices since the early 1980s. Before joining the University of Missouri faculty in 2004 as the first Reynolds Journalism fellow, he headed the Information Design Laboratory for Knight-Ridder, Inc, which, at the time, was one of the largest newspaper corporations in the world. He also has written a book “Mediamorphosis: Understanding New Media” about the digital transformation of news media. For more information on digital publishing at RJI, visit their website: