The publishing landscape is now unrecognisable compared to how it was just five years ago. While traditional publishing houses are devoting time and resources trying to digitise (and monetise) existing titles, media leaders are already ahead of the curve, with portfolios of established properties that bring consumers and creators closer together than ever before. Read More
Tag Archives: publishing
Up until recently many media outlets were obsessed with having a ‘Facebook strategy’, building pages and apps and begging people to Like them. The times seem to be changing though, with many outlets now considering Twitter, Pinterest, and email newsletters better drivers of traffic.
Thursday 17th January 2012, London
Penguin launched their ‘Penguin Live’ strand last night as Seth Godin arrived in London to launch his latest book ‘The Icarus Deception’ at The Mermaid Theatre. An audience of devout fans, media professionals and curious self-improvers descended on the City, hungry for more of what the Purple Cow author has become famous for – inspirational words for business people, marketers and entrepreneurs of all disciplines.
Publisher Faber & Faber is trying out something new in digital publishing with an iPad version of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land.
Poetry lovers often argue that poems are meant to be heard rather than read, and The Waste Land app addresses this, presenting the text alongside a number of different readings.
Rupert Murdoch seems to think that you will.
After the huge financial losses just announced by News Corp, Murdoch has decreed that, possibly from as soon as next year, he will charge for all his newspaper websites including The Times and The Sun. It isn’t clear whether this will extend to broadcast news websites such as Sky News.
It has been obvious for some time that the newspaper industry is at a crossroads. The old-new-model of drawing in as much traffic as possible to gain revenue from display advertising has been found to be unsustainable – I say old-new because, well, we’ve been here before haven’t we: back when paid for content was deemed to be a broken model and the pay-walls tumbled down the first time. In addition to News Corp, the Telegraph, Guardian and Mirror Groups have all mooted charging for content but as Michael Beecroft, head of digital trading at Mediaedge:cia Global, concedes: “In many ways the horse has already bolted, and trying to close the door on it now will be very tricky indeed.”
This model may work for some specialist content, such as the FT or the Media section of The Guardian, but in general why would anyone pay for content they can get for free elsewhere?
Murdoch, Sly Bailey and others speak about how quality journalism is not cheap but what exacly denotes “quality” and who is the judge of that other than the audience? In a world where the media landscape is increasingly fragmenting, why would you pay for frontline heavyweight news items when the BBC continue to provide that for (what is perceived to be) free? And when it comes to the so called celebrity ‘news’ that the tabloids pedal so well, why would you pay for The Sun when you can go to Perez Hilton? Why go to newspapers for sport news when you can go to Cricinfo, Football 365 or Planet Rugby?
Even most of the content from the Guardian’s Media section can also be found with a subscription to the NMA or Media Week.
“In the past, the media was a full-time job. But maybe the media is going to be a part time job. Maybe media won’t be a job at all, but will instead be a hobby. There is no law that says that industries have to remain at any given size. Once there were blacksmiths and there were steel workers, but things change. The question is not should journalists have jobs. The question is can people get the information they want, the way they want it? The marketplace will sort this out. If we continue to add value to the Internet we’ll find a way to make money. But not everything we do has to make money.”
The UK has always had more national newspapers than any other country, and the arrival of digital has just exacerbated the situation to the point where the market is unbearably crowded.
The Independent, with the lowest readership of any national, has been under threat for some time following huge losses, with the Daily Mail & General Trust rumoured to be interested in rescuing it. The failure for such a move to materialize to date probably says more about The Independent that anything else.
Moreover, The Observer, the oldest Sunday newspaper in the UK, published since 1791, is facing the threat of either closure by the Guardian Media Group or being re formatted into a weekly magazine following the same heavy losses suffered by the other papers (The Observor actually being one of the papers that is holding its weight better than others). I would find this extremely sad, no other Sunday paper quite caters for the same readership (though this may yet be its saving grace- Guardian Media Group is owned by a not-quite-for-profit organisation for a reason) but we all should come to the realization that in the next ten years a lot of household newspaper names will either change beyond recognition or disappear completely.
Ultimately we have been here before. People may be questioning the business model for free content but it is worth remembering that the model for paid content turned out to be just as unprofitable back at the turn of the decade. The fundamental problem is that there is no longer a scarcity of content and without scarcity economics doesn’t really work. One thing is for sure though – in the words of Dylan, These Times They Are A-Changin’.
Interestingly I wrote this last week and the debate has now moved on however I felt quite strongly when I read of the recent lobbying by major media companies in the US to force Google to make them appear top of its natural search results for news stories and decided to post anyway.
It is supreme arrogance, ignorance and laziness from newspaper barons who are rightly scared that they are being increasingly marginalised by users finding their content where they want rather than where these old school ‘institutions’ would have them find it. If newspapers want their sites to be top of search engines, and surely they do with 80% of internet journeys starting with a search, then they should take the steps to make sure they get there via ethical SEO techniques; by improving and optimising their architecture and content and improving the quality of their inbound links via digital PR. Asking for special treatment is just, well, cheating. The Guardian for example, has always been one of the lowest selling national UK dailies but it has tapped into a worldwide liberal audience online and its site is now one of the most read newspaper websites in the world, and consistently the most visited in the UK (although traditionally populist Sun did overtake last week according to Nielsen). Why is this? Mostly breadth of digital content, especially blogs, and, in the case of the Guardian, the identification of a target audience- something that most national newspapers, who have more or less the same centre right agenda, will not be able to differentiate against. Say what you like about it politically, but the Guardian understands digital arguably better than any other traditionally offline media owner, arguably in the English speaking world. If print media brands want to survive in the brave new world, they need to realise that they are no longer people’s first source for news.
The word ‘fragmented’ does not come near to describing the sources from where users get their content from these days. Why should we go to a newspaper website for it? Many print media owners seem to think that users will come to their site because in the pre-digital past if you wanted news you had no choice other than to use their brand. Moreover, many people only read news in the past because it was all that was available for your commute. Now all that content, and more, is on the web and the new generation of mobile phones such as the iPhone are only making it easier to read that content on the move, even if that portability is still embryonic in its development, not to mention other distractions like mp3 players and video games.
Admittedly, when it comes to big international stories, it is the larger and more established media owners that have the resource to send journalists to the front line but then those media owners need to take steps to ensure that their content is then found by search engines spiders. To ask for special treatment flies in the face of the principle of an unregulated, democratic world wide web. It’s an old media solution in a digital world. We all have to face the reality that there are too many newspapers in the post digital world, certainly in the UK. The Trinity Mirror Group has closed 27 titles in the last year alone. The recent realisation that selling ad space alone does not provide enough revenue for newspaper sites to keep their content free only complicates the issue. Digital has been cutting into the sales of national newspapers for years forcing some, such as the near 150 year old US newspaper, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, to go online only and reduce their journalist staff from 120 to just 20. Is subscription for content the answer? That’s a whole different question. As for the immediate future, newspaper barons can moan as much as they want but although some will have the vision to survive, some are ready for the recycling bin.