Study Shows Magazine Editors Have No Clue What Makes The Web Different

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Most editors said their website and their print magazine shared a common mission. 16 per cent of respondents said their Web site’s mission involved community-building with readers. Interestingly, only 5 per cent mentioned new or unique content as integral to the site’s mission, with 96 per cent reporting the primary use of content from the print magazine online.

via Online Journalism Blog.

There Are 3 Comments On This Article.

  1. The Study exposes some of the ills of print and web publishing. I downloaded and read it in its entirety. I drew some conclusions that reinforce my thinking about the futures of print and web publishing. If you read the thread on this site about Magnum’s business plan, you might recall that I felt Magnum was onto something important. It recognized the need for a different approach to content and content distribution, and it intended to engage those problems head on.

    The Study illustrates why publications are in trouble. Most have failed to transition into a Web-based product that can stand on its own. Publishers are still trying to sell print via the Web. The Study makes it clear that print editors have greater control over Websites. Problem with that is that expertise in print publishing is not easily applied to Web publishing. Print is and has always been primarily a text based product. The Web on the other hand is more a visual based service. In print, images supplement words. On the successful Website text supplements images.

    As the publishers try to protect their paper product’s revenues, they neglect building a Web publishing model that will generate profits. As the Study points out, those Websites with specialized Web editors are usually more profitable that those over which print editors have control. The downside being that Web editors are not as good at content editing as print editors so Website tend to have more errors and misinformation than print. That, I believe, costs them ad revenues. Advertisers will not sponsor erroneous information. Publishers don’t seem to get it, and I for one don’t think that most of them will ever get it because their corporate think about short term profitability demands that they prop up print and neglect Web development. It’s a fatal error.

    I think that it is most likely that a new generation of publishers is evolving and the Web is their media. Watch Google and Apple on that point. Watch Magnum too. The key to successful (read profitable) Web publishing is good and layered content, presented in an eye appealing manner using informative still and video imagery supplemented by text and/or audio. I think the emphasis is on audio, which, let’s face it, is spoken text.

    That is not a new concept. Thirty years ago I owned and operated a company that specialized in creating audio visual content including multi-projector shows. What we did was use images and voice over (spoken text) to persuade, entertain, train, etc. It worked and was a big revenue generator because an in depth story could be told in a short period of time with great impact. Impact is profitable. The Web delivers impact.

    I so believe in the above that in the past two weeks I purchased two Panasonic Lumix GH1 cameras that can shoot stills and can also record high definition (AVCHD) stereo video. No, those cameras will not compete with high end digital video recorders, but for the Web we don’t need 18 megapixel cameras or super capable video cameras. We need cameras that are versatile and can fill an HDTV screen or a tablet computer with good content.

    The model is changing. Most publishers are not. Instead they guard their dinosaurs and think that the Web can feed them. Well, it can’t. I think that they know it can’t, but financial performance dictates keeping the dinosaurs alive as a priority. They forget that evolution sets the real priority order. The Study really points out just how badly they have missed that fact.