First we got the bad news about InfoWorld. Now we're hearing about trouble at the Chronicle, one of the biggest media properties in my hometown. Serious stuff, and I plan to write this general topic very soon. It also touches on some of the work that I am doing on behalf of Hubbub client FAST. The media industry is reorganizing to better compete in the post-Google world. There will be winners and losers.
In the meantime, let's not overreact to the doom and gloom ... or the early reports. Last time I looked at InfoWorld, for example, the online piece of the business was growing fast. The safe bet is that MSM is undergoing a metamorphosis, rather than "going down without a fight."UPDATE: InfoWorld has confirmed that they are shutting down the print division. As I suspected, they are looking to innovate online, where they have already made some strides. Steve Fox (editor in chief):
Now, I don't want to sound glib about print's demise. I've worked on print publications for nearly 30 years, and I enjoy the physical feel of a magazine, its portability, the way you can spread it out in your lap and dog ear pages for future visits. Online bookmarks may be more efficient, site searches retrieve information faster, but it's hard to beat a magazine for its tactility and visceral thrill. On a personal note, I'll miss creating covers, working with my art director and other editors to develop a concept, then reviewing the sketches and tweaking until everything works. And it's hard to imagine I'll never have to create another InfoWorld "coverline" -- the only-in-magazine-style type that graces each cover, combining equal parts information and tease. For an editor, few jobs are as satisfying, especially when the finished product arrives, all shiny and new.
InfoWorld, though, is a for-profit business not unlike the businesses many of you run or work for. I am an editor, which means I answer to the readers, not the advertisers. That will never change. Nonetheless, I also know how the business works, or in some cases, doesn't work. The ad-driven economic model that supported print magazines for years (publishers deliver a steady stream of highly qualified readers, and advertisers pay for the privilege of putting ads in front of them) is unraveling. Given the alternative, advertisers want more immediate gratification and measureable results than print can afford them. On the Web, they can know who and how many people are viewing their message; they can target specific audiences and know exactly what they are getting. They can engage potential customers directly in ways print magazines never allowed. There's no more guesswork.Other notable quotes today: "The transition to online only means losing 70-80 percent of operating costs." --John Battelle. "When it comes to newspapers, they're pretty much right--industrial grade paper just isn't the medium of choice for news anymore and reporters aren't the only people who can cover events and provide informed perspectives. Having said that--and added another log to the pyre of newspaper naysayers and cynics, let me also add that I think magazines--my beloved addiction--are in a really different position and may indeed flourish as newspaper decline." --Susan Mernit "...it doesn’t take a rocket science to see a business where more and more of the revenue comes from the online side shut down the expensive business of manipulating and shipping atoms around. Nevertheless, this will change the InfoWorld audience and limit some opportunities to reach out to different groups." --Phil Windley "No matter what you feel about the newspaper industry and its sloth or blindness in the face of early warning signs, we collectively should not be indifferent to the fate of newspapers and the value they bring to public discussion. While it may be a more “efficient” advertising vehicle and offer content and interactivity not found offline, the Internet is a complement but not a substitute for traditional media." --Greg Sterling