Category "The Future"

Rodale Publishes Nearly Up To Date Back Issues on Google

- - Magazines, The Future

Looks like Rodale has some sort of partnership going with google or maybe they’re just giving in to the inevitable and allowing the scanning of all but the latest issues of the magazine. I found all these titles with the last 3 years of back issues available up to the November or December 2008 issue: Best Life, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Bicycling, Prevention, Organic Gardening, Mountain Bike Magazine, Running Times and Runners World.

It’s somewhat ironic that a company with a stable of magazines that rely on dispensing the same advice year after year (how to get 6 pack abs!) would be the first to enter that information into a permanent database where anyone can look up content.

I’m not sure how the rights are going to be handled with this if at all. Publishers are already barred from selling the content to online databases (according to this) without renegotiation of the rights so I guess giving it away is the only way it can be done without paying extra. So, why is Rodale doing this? My only guess would be, to snag potential readers who might stumble on the content and discover they like it, but would rather have it delivered in the usual format.

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best-life

Best Photobooks of 2008

- - Blog News, The Future

Photo-eye has a cool interactive list where you can checkout top 10 lists from 17 different people (here) which I discovered on the blog MAO (Modern Art Obsession) and that’s where I discovered the best name I’ve ever seen for a book: “God Spoiled a Perfect Asshole When He Put Teeth in Yer Mouth.” by Dash Snow. Peres Projects.

Just Slap Something Between The Ads

- - The Future

“The daily newspaper was a centerpiece of the community; it was how community information was distributed.

Eventually the newspaper was sold. It was no longer a point of civic pride for its owners or a cohesive center point of happenings, involvement and community. It was now an investment.

Along with the other media outlets bought and sold through the years a thirty percent profit was a common mandate. As other sources for information became more popular the circulation began to decline and cuts where made.

The more cuts and consolidations made by the owners, the more the circulation dropped. New owners would offer false hope for their investments, but ultimately shareholders demanded the mandated profits. Reinvestment, other than the occasional redesign, was rare.

Local columns, features and news would be scaled back and replaced with homogenized, syndicated columns, features and entertainment. Circulation continued to drop.”

Read more at NewMediaPhotographer.com

Take our business, please! We’re throwing in the towel!

- - Jobs, The Future

Simon Dumenco of AdAge delivers the keynote this holiday season:

“That big publishers can’t manage to sell enough print ads, in a post-print media economy shadowed by a larger economic meltdown, is not exactly shocking. What is shocking, though, is that they’re essentially saying to scrappier, upstart online competitors: Take our business, please! We’re throwing in the towel! If we can’t play by the old rules of publishing — the profit-soaked, imperial model with endless layers of coddled management ensconced in luxe trophy offices — then we don’t want to play at all!”

“I’m just asking: Are you willing to radically adjust your business model precisely because you still believe in the act of publishing?”

“And when I say ‘radically adjust your business model,’ I don’t mean radically amputating so the patient bleeds to death faster. I don’t mean cutting all the front-line content producers — the editors and writers and art staffers who don’t make million-dollar-plus salaries — in great brutal rolling waves so that soon you’ll be unable to produce any content anymore. I don’t mean changing your business purpose from editorial brand building to, basically, editorial brand hospice care — abusive, inadequate hospice care at that.”

Read it all (here).

Why A Magazine Is Like A Record

- - The Future

I know some people can’t stand the comparison between the media industry and the music industry and it’s been pointed out that the history of the recording industry and the way consumers use music prevent direct comparisons but follow me for a second on this one.

There used to be two basic types of buyers for records. The core buyer is someone who will consume anything the artist puts out and will listen to every single track of a record over and over. Then there’s the casual buyer who likes one or two songs on the record but is forced to buy the whole thing because that’s the only way to listen to those one or two songs.

Magazines are the same way. Some are bought by people who will read cover to cover and back again (I remember reading the ads in Powder Magazine when I was obsessed with skiing because I’d already read every last caption and sidebar and it was still 29 days till the next issue came out) and some are bought by people who wanted to read one or two stories but still had to buy the whole magazine to do it.

So, then the internet came along and the distribution for music suddenly got easier and that one song you wanted to listen to but didn’t want to be forced into buying the whole album for was suddenly easy to find and download for free at first and now for 99 cents or less. It’s interesting to note that a common practice in the recording industry was to make a couple hit songs with a producer to trick consumers into buying the whole album.

When are magazines going to finally figure this out? People who used to read one story per issue now read none, because a comparable story can be found online for free. Advertisers seem to have already figured out that most people aren’t reading the entire magazine.

But, here’s the rub in the whole deal. An album of music used to be worth $12 and now it’s worth $1 or $2 to some people and $12 to others. It’s possible that still adds up to whatever amount you would have made previously if the $1 or $2 purchases are ten times what they would have been because you brought in people who were reluctant to buy the whole album for one or two songs. But, it’s entirely possible the profits are 1/12 of what they used to be.

None of us care if you make one million dollars instead of twelve next year but you’d better realize pretty quick that people aren’t buying into the packaging anymore and all shit you stuff in there for advertisers because pretty soon it’s going to be zero. The future of magazines is producing singles.

A Call For Change In The Publishing Industry

- - The Future

It’s time for change in the publishing industry.

There could not be a better time for change in the publishing industry. On the eve of new leadership for America, magazine publishers need to pull their collective heads out of their asses and stop hacking away at the quality of products they produce (and the spirit of those that produce them) and start leading this industry in a new direction.

After announcing a restructuring of their magazines and a staff cuts Anne Moore CEO of Time Inc. told publishers at a circulation conference that Time Inc.’s decision to reorganize had “nothing to do with digital and one hundred percent to do with the recession” (here).

Really Anne? Yes, advertisers are leaving because of the recession but they are also leaving because the product you produce no longer works for them, because there are new and exciting opportunities online and because you keep hacking away at the staff, frequency, page count, trim size and contributors until what’s left is not worth what you are charging. Was it ever worth what you charged them? You’ve certainly made millions off advertising to your readers but I think we’re about to find out if that was a fair deal for everyone.

This AdAge article (here) presents two scenarios for the next five years. Either, top tier magazines that somehow find a way to survive will reap huge returns when the recession ends or advertisers that are leaving now will never come back again. Without a doubt I know all the publishers are betting the former and I think they are all completely wrong.

There are two monumental changes in our industry:

1. The balance of power has gone to the consumers, contributors and even *gasp* your employees who can create, distribute and use content online practically for free.

2. The web allows you to save millions of dollars in creation and distribution costs.

Yet, I feel like many people in publishing think they’re not monumental. If a magazine is anything it’s a very expensive and complicated way to package and deliver content. Suddenly this takes zero effort and publishers are all standing around scratching their heads screaming how will we make money off this.

The changeover to the digital use and distribution of your content is going to be a mess, a complete mess, but without significant investment from existing publishers you will see your market share dwindle and eventually disappear completely. There’s nothing wrong with this really, it happens when the market changes and companies don’t see that hairpin turn in the road and just drive straight off the cliff. I’m sure there are many who will not be one bit sad to see the demise of a few publishers out there who don’t treat their employees or contributors very well.

Here are my 5 easy steps to making the transition to a new media economy:

1. Plow all of your profits back into the your company. Then get into the savings account an grab some of the profits from the 90’s when you were getting obscenely rich off your advertisers and plow some of that back into the product. Use it to make mistakes.

2. Gather all the employees you were about to fire because they don’t fit in so well with your organization or because they are too green to have mastered traditional publishing and give them promotions. Put them in charge. Gather all the people you’ve trained to say no to change and yes to whatever you say is good and fire them (ok I know this will mean there is nobody left in accounting and IT so keep a few of them around but maybe go for the junior ones).

3. Now, add staff and make everyone spend half the day doing traditional print work and half the day working on the online thing (it’s not a magazine). Make sure they try lots of crazy ideas and make lots of mistakes.

4. Invest in your contributors. You spend a tiny fraction of your production costs on the contributors yet the product without them is worthless. If you don’t start building some loyalty with your content creators they will leave you when a better deal comes along.

5. Photography is the key. Figure out how to use it. Video online is TV. We already know that works. Text online is, well, it’s great to read at a certain length but you know, it’s always going to work better printed. Photography is the perfect medium for communication online.

Change or die. It’s up to you.

ImageSpan May Change Stock Photography Forever

- - Stock, The Future

Whats the biggest problem facing stock photography today? Is it finding pictures or is it licensing pictures? For a certain group of clients and buyers it’s finding pictures that meet a specific criteria, which inevitably includes a level of trust that the image appears nowhere else and that the model release is solid. That market is fixed and declining so I believe the potential for growth lies in easier licensing of images. That way you can license to consumers, to people who have no clue how to do it and to people who steal images. This is where the potential exists (story here) and this is where image span has taken a step in the right direction with their license stream software (here). They allow you to attach licensing to an image and publish it anywhere. You can even publish it straight into google from their dashboard.

In the words of CEO Iain Scholnick, “Image Span hopes to do for digital content what credit card companies do for physical content. Make it easy to buy.” They even take a credit card like five percent of the transaction. Now, buying images with credit cards is not an original idea and two recent high profile failures in the industry, that were geared towards selling the pictures of any photographer around should be enough to tell you it’s a tough market to crack. Ian told me the problem with their licensing was that humans were doing the transactions. The solution is to automate it. I can certainly see how the future of stock photography is about buyers clicking on images and making instant purchases with instant delivery. But, for me it’s about the ability to distribute the content in new ways. On google, blogs and even the NY Times website. When photography travels with it’s own license the potential is endless.

Sounds pretty sweet right. You attach licenses to your images and scatter them around the internet and when people want to use them they click and make a purchase. Well, here’s where it becomes real interesting because they announced a new development today called content tracker (press release here). The images you want to license can now also be tracked and when they appear in unlicensed uses you will be notified. I was told by Ian that they create a digital fingerprint of the image from the ones and zeros and that makes it impossible to crop the tracking out. They even have one click notifications that you can send to the offending party to ask them to license, remove or properly credit the use. This closes the loop on publishing images online because it allows you to track all the uses of your images and can be a powerful deterrent in preventing theft.

I’m sure this is just the very beginning of the potential for something like this and if the investors are any indication (Bertelsmann) there’s a huge need for licensing and tracking on the corporate level but what I like best is they’ve created a solution for everyone.

Thoughts on Media – October 2008

- - The Future

“I think we’re on the verge of an epochal advancement in journalism.” — Matt Thompson, Newsless.org

This new site called Newsless.org that I discovered via an article on the site Publishing 2.0 about the need for a new AP (here) is authored by Matt Thompson–currently undertaking a year-long research fellowship with the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri–is an exciting new voice with thoughts and reporting on the future of journalism and newspapers.

I like the the idea that he and Jeff Jarvis float that journalism needs to evolve from the story to the topic:

“I think the new building block of journalism needs to be the topic. I don’t mean that in the context of news site topic pages, which are just catalogues of links built to kiss up to Google SEO. Those are merely collections of articles, and articles are inadequate.” — Jeff Jarvis, Buzz Machine.

There’s an undeniably massive role for photography in a shift like this because topics require moving the story forward and moving beyond attention grabbing to attention holding and that requires a certain type and depth of photography.

But, when I read these discussions I’m often left wondering why nobody is talking about photography. I mean, why is photography only popular online when it’s used to sell cameras to consumers. Why can I find hot topics like politics, environment, economy and sports all covered in words, podcast and now video but nothing done purely with photographs. Is that because the consumers aren’t interested or is because photographers aren’t doing anything about it.

I’m currently on the lookout for several things to happen with photography online:

A photography site to become popular that isn’t about selling cameras or techniques to consumers.
A site that tells stories of national interest in pictures (with text is fine, but equal).
A top tier photographer producing content online only.

Maybe I will never see any of that. Maybe I’m wrong about the value and interest in photography online.

I hope not.

“No, the essence of the problem is that we thought the internet represented just a new gadget and not a fundamental change in society, the economy, and thus journalism.” — Jeff Jarvis, Buzz Machine.

Tina Brown Launches The Daily Beast

- - The Future

Designed to have the look of a European “smart tabloid,” something already feels different with the simplicity of the front page and use of photography. This will be interesting to watch as Tina is well known in the editorial world for injecting life and chaos into venerable titles like The New Yorker (She redesigned the magazine and introduced the first staff photographer, Richard Avedon) and Vanity Fair.

From the article in PaidContent.org (here).
Web over print: Brown: “I so much prefer it. There’s nothing like actually doing something to learning exactly how it should go. One of the great agonies of magazines is it takes so damn long. It just takes forever to get a magazine out and, once it is out, I remember with monthlies, you’d publish your first issue and almost within hours of getting it out and the first response, you knew exactly how you wanted to tweak it and do things and change it and make it different and better but you were already halfway to press with the next issue so it was really sort of three months before you could change it. What I’m loving about this is we’re actually able to build it fast and get the response and weave that into our evolution. It’s very exciting. It’s thrilling.”

The Daily Beast (here).

James Nachtwey’s TED Prize and You

- - The Future

James Nachtwey and TED need your help breaking a major story that Jim has been documenting over the last two years as part of winning the TED prize in 2007. On October 3, his work will be simultaneously revealed online, disseminated through numerous media channels, and projected on monuments and public buildings throughout the world.

How to get involved:
The following link contains embeddable badges, Nachtwey’s TEDTalk, and other information related to Nachtwey’s wish.
http://www.tedprize.org/nachtwey/bloggers.html
The site will redirect on October 3 to unveil the story.

Nachtwey wished for help in breaking a news story in a way that demonstrates the power of news photography in the digital age. Let’s do whatever we can to make it happen.

Top 100 Media Companies

- - The Future

AdAge has their annual list of the top 100 media companies (here) and I was surprise by a couple things. The growth in 2007 was the slowest since the last recession in 2001 at 4.6% and almost 300 billion in revenue. I thought it would have been flatter then that and I was shocked to see that when they started the list in 1981 the top 100 had revenue of 30 billion. That’s some serious growth in the last 26 years.

The only significant movment came from who else but “Google — whose leap to 12th from 19th last year was the only big gain in the top 20…” “‘This is a changing of the guard,’ said Rishad Tobaccowala, CEO of Denuo Group and chief innovation officer for Publicis Groupe Media. ‘If you look back 20, 30 years ago, the major companies would probably be print-based. Then they move to basically be broadcast based. Now we’re looking at companies that have basically digital or technology underpinnings.'”

Jeff Jarvis, author of “What Would Google Do?” and director of the interactive journalism program at the City University of New York levels a little criticism at the list by saying that “There are new paths to big-ness. And those paths are not necessarily through ownership and corporate control.” He goes on to say, “The mass market is dead, replaced by the mass of niches,” Mr. Jarvis said. “Advertising people roll their eyes at me and say, ‘No, no, no.'” They cite big draws such as “American Idol,” he said. “But we all know how inefficient that’s been. And what’s artificially propping it up has been the advertising industry, because they like one-stop shopping. They’re not built to find these highly targeted networks.”

New Site Looks to Help Distribute Multimedia Projects

- - The Future

Multimedia Muse (here) is a site that hopes to bring more attention to multimedia projects online. This is an excellent new trend where websites are being created not only to drive traffic but also help people find many instances of a certain type of photography or project online.

From the about page:

“We’re three photographers who believe in creating a greater corporate news demand for online photojournalism. Currently, news sites often give lousy play to multimedia projects. Lousy play means fewer web clicks. And fewer clicks means that these projects aren’t earning their web hosts the kind of revenue that they could. We created MultimediaMuse to try and turn things around: to help give our industry’s Final Cut creations the display, and their web hosts the clicks, they deserve.”

The Making of A Magazine Story

- - The Future

Wired is giving everyone a look behind the magazine making curtain with a new blog called storyboard (here).

Wired is probably the perfect candidate for something like this because they seem to have a decent grasp of their mission and don’t feel the need to cut corners and/or try to bullshit their audience. I hope we really do get to see the entire process and for example, get a peek at the first draft of the story and see just exactly why it needs a ton of work like I always used hear from editors when one of those first drafts came in. Then we could watch as the CD and PE discuss approaches for the photography and hopefully see the raw unedited film from the shoot, unless of course they hire Dan Winters in which case you will only see the final images (ever). And, finally maybe we can listen in as editors stand around the designers computer trying to come up with a clever headlines and pull quotes while the managing editor is standing nearby checking their watch because everyone is waiting for a round to start.

Yes, this could be very entertaining for all of us.

Via, Boing Boing.

Popular Newspaper Columnist Quits Citing Slow Transition To The Web

- - The Future

Jay Mariotti, star sports columnist and 17 year veteran of the Chicago Sun-Times abruptly quits after signing a new 3 year contract.

Mariotti told CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker that he decided to quit after covering the Olympics in Beijing because newspapers are in serious trouble, and he did not want to go down with the ship.

“It’s been a tremendous experience, but I’m going to be honest with you, the profession is dying,” Mariotti said, “I don’t think either paper [Sun-Times or Chicago Tribune] is going to survive.

“To showcase your work … you need a stellar Web site and if a newspaper doesn’t have that, you can’t be stuck in the 20th century with your old newspaper.”

Read more (here). Thanks Loren.

Media Needs A Makeover

- - The Future

The pace of doom and gloom stories for printed media continues unabated but I’ve noticed more and more that are offering brilliant insight into the problem and even a few solutions.

A story in Business Week about a thriving newspaper industry in Germany (here) surmises that the problems with US newspapers is not the internet it’s the content:

“I suspect the real reason German papers still thrive is their embrace of competition. Unlike so many U.S. papers, Bild was never part of a quasi-monopoly that allowed complacency. It’s telling that Bild doesn’t deliver —it depends on newsstand sales. ‘Bild has to prove itself at the kiosk every day,’ says Deputy Editor-in-Chief Michael Paustian.

That pressure helped Bild maintain its focus on original content. It uses almost no wire copy and brags that every story is an exclusive. Even during the crisis years, Bild kept its 800-strong editorial staff intact. What advice does Diekmann have for American newspapers? ‘It’s too late.’ ”

Along a similar note Dr. Samir Husni (AKA Mr. Magazine) scolds all the top magazine titles for causing the failing newsstand themselves by selling subscriptions at cut rate prices. The practice, to offer dirt cheap subs as a way to control circulation and meet rate base not only undermines newsstand sales but in my mind it destroys the content by bringing in consumers who are barely interested in reading the magazine in the first place and forcing the editorial staff to cater to a more general audience of readers. Dr. Husini’s unlikely cure for the newsstand woes:

“Stop chasing the numbers of customers and concentrate on customers who count. The first step in doing such is stop the rate base gimmick. You can’t anymore chase a rate base number and try to meet that number. Today’s customers are different and reaching those who count is much more important than counting them.”

Mygazines continues to make headlines for allowing consumers to freely scan and distribute their favorite magazines in a clear violation of US copyright laws but it doesn’t look like they will go away anytime soon because they’re owned by the same company that runs Pirate Bay (CNet story here). They’ve been on Hollywood’s most wanted list for several years now and appear to be indestructible.

There are many, many reasons why this will never become the napster of the publishing industry; it takes a lot of effort to scan an entire magazine and converting magazine pages into jpgs hardly seems like a brilliant solution to portability online, to name a few, but it’s certainly caused quite a few people to sit up and take notice and spark discussion. I agree with this motley fool story entitled “It’s the end of publishing as we know it” (here) when they say:

“Magazines like Cosmo, Wired, and Playboy always looked like prime online properties, dishing out their advice, entertainment, and other well-written and popular articles through this huge series of tubes. But here we are, well into the digital age, and most of them simply haven’t made the transition yet.

If Mygazines teaches Time anything, it would be how to present the print magazine in a tasty online form, easy to navigate and easy to use. Copy that model and then improve on it, inject a bit of revenue-generating advertising, and see if your readers prefer the official version with corporate backing or some fly-by-night rip-off where everything is free but nothing is guaranteed. Now let’s see which publisher might be the first to get a clue so we can invest in it.”

Of course publishing companies are like lumbering giants and as risk adverse as you get (a few serve as retirement accounts for their owners), but it would only take one textbook case of a magazine doing it right online and proving that the revenue and audience exists to turn the entire industry around.

I don’t think printed magazines will ever go away completely and why should they, people still like to read them and they’re awfully convenient for the airport, bus, train or limo rides, but the audience is limited and will continue to shrink so publishers need to follow the young audience and the casual, used to buy it for 1 article readers where they’ve gone, online.

Also, if you’re simply going to reprint the entire contents of the magazine online with all the advertising intact it should be free. Simple math will tell you that the newsstand and subscriptions prices don’t even cover the printing and distribution cost for a single issue, so if I’m saving you that expense the least you can do is not charge me for it online. If you’re going to transform the content online and run epic photo essays, allow reader interaction and leverage the technology available then the possibilities for audience and revenue are endless. If you treat the internet like a piece of paper you may find equilibrium between audience size, expense to produce and profit but the the multi-million dollar profit glory days are now coming to an end.

Overall, the theme here seems to be content, quality content. Can it really be that simple? I think so.

UPDATE: Pirate Bay refutes ownership of Mygazines (here). Thanks Sean.

A Light At The End Of The Tunnel

- - The Future

Two recent developments have me excited about the future for photographers:

1. Magnum photographer Thomas Dworzak is in Georgia for The Wall Street Journal and they’ve got a nice online slideshow to go with it (here) but then they take it a step further and have a BIG picture page with a comment area (here). Spread the word. It can only get better.

2. Andrew Hetherington sells out of a series of 220 prints in 9 minutes. All because he’s a brilliant photographer and…he has an audience (read about it here).

It can only get better as more an more newspapers and eventually magazines adopt the big picture strategy and need professionals to go out and deliver powerful content. And, photographers with an audience can count on publishers seeking them out to tap into that audience and their additional channel of distribution.

Also, check out the 10 Misconceptions about photography. I’m feeling pretty good about what lies ahead.