I enjoy monthly print publications like the Bar Bulletin for thoughtful analytical articles that explore intriguing themes and topics - pieces I'm going to sit down with and devote some quality time to reading, processing and incorporating into my own thinking. I can read it on folded open sheets of newsprint while lying on my couch, absorbing different stories as my eyes wander from left to right, top to bottom, across the page following font and layout styles created by publishing experts that have evolved over centuries based on how humans process visual cues.
While not centuries old, the physical design and production of the Bar Bulletin are based on those same cues. And it has had the added benefit of being a monopoly source of information for more than 50 years. During this time, the bar has used its printed newspaper to put out important information (e.g., court notices) to the profession. We might have complemented the publication with the occasional special fax broadcasts to the membership, urgent postcard notices or even an in-person meeting of the membership. Did you know we used to have bi-monthly membership lunches on second and fourth Wednesdays for $2.50 per person in the early 1970s?
But then Al Gore invented the Internet. (Okay, late 1990s joke, I admit!)
KCBA launched a website, the courts launched websites, lawyers launched websites - you get the picture. Then websites led to blogs, blogs led to social media, desktop computers gave way to smartphones and, before you knew it, information dissemination from KCBA to its members was forever changed into a myriad number of new means. From my perspective, this change is something to be embraced - it's clearly where our future is headed, as best as anyone can predict. Digital options get better and better each year.
So, should we accept this change and eliminate our monthly paper publication, moving to all-digital information dissemination right away? I don't think so. Given the still heavy reliance of this profession on email and paper printouts for professional work product, I'd argue against such an either/or approach.
Instead, I see KCBA in a transition phase in terms of its use of traditional and emerging publication technologies. We need to continue to deliver this high-quality-content, monthly newspaper, but deliberately and increasingly add in a robust digital communication strategy that complements printed pieces. This way KCBA will be well positioned as members' preferences likely continue their evolution away from printed publications. How long the transition takes is the unknown - my crystal ball (with lots of cracks in it ... if only it could tell me those winning Powerball numbers!) tells me we're looking at a few years at least.
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