Notes on the creation of a new media landscape

The Memo You Didn’t Get–Yet

with 5 comments

Below is a guest post I wrote for and FishbowlNY. It’s my vision of how the news would be broken by a major publisher that its entire operations – editorial, advertising, everything – would switch to a completely digital format. Let me know your thoughts below.

To: The Staff
From: Your Favorite MSM Conglomerate [leave a comment to vote]
Re: The Strongest Rumor You’ve Heard Yet
Date: September 10, 2010

Following on events in our industry with which you are familiar, we have today given notice to our printers, paper manufacturers, ink suppliers, newsstand wholesalers and subscription-fulfillment agencies, as well as the Newspaper Guild and the U.S. Postal Service, of our intent to become the first fully migrated print-to-digital publisher in America.

Once this transformation is complete, all of our brands will be multimedia titles, utilizing audio, video, animation and full-motion information graphics, brought together by a state-of-the-art platform and the most advanced design and communications software in the industry, which we have been developing off-site over the past eight months and about which you will learn more in the days and weeks ahead. Thanks to these innovations and the now virtually ubiquitous Digital Online NUmedia Tablet (DONUT®), all print publication will cease as of July 1, 2011.

Such a revolutionary step naturally raises many questions and issues, few of them easy. Although we anticipate no layoffs among either editorial or business staffs of our titles, production departments will have to master many new skills, and jobs in every department will require the adoption of new methods. Circulation departments will emphasize new analytic tools and social media techniques, for example. Ad staffs will shift their focus to rich-media and television advertising. Editorial staffs will clearly need to grow and change their current focus substantially in order to incorporate new media and software talent — videographers, animators, interactive and social media experts, programmers, integrators, etc.

The enormous savings that we will realize with digital publication will, however, cause grave dislocations among our partners in printing and distribution, and these will be as painful for them as they would be for us.

I will not dwell on the benefits of this step for the planet, except to say that this move will eliminate more than a million tons of carbon from the earth’s atmosphere each year, radically reducing the company’s carbon footprint.

We undertake this initiative not so much in the interest of employees or shareholders, but rather, for the audience that has always been our most cherished customer, the American public. We live in a new world of media, one that offers far more and richer tools of communication than paper and ink. We fail in our purpose as a company if we fail to adapt to a world in which quotes that were words on a page can come alive with the body language of experts and villains, in which music stories can sing, film reviews can play, book reviews can speak, charts can incorporate movement and audio to convey their information more assertively.

We are story-tellers, and as such we need to master all the crafts and arts that are available to us. We expect all of our brands — in newspapers, magazines, books, textbooks and not least our properties already online — to be greatly invigorated and far more useful to their audiences as a result of this digital migration.

Since opening our doors in the early years of the last century, our ultimate ambition has been to enrich with great journalism that civic conversation which is fundamental to a robust democracy. It is in pursuit of the same goal that we are taking the steps we announce today.

This memo appeared originally at Fishbowl NY

FYI: I’m tweeting about the evolution of the media industry at @jamesrgaines


Written by Jim Gaines

September 10, 2009 at 4:46 pm

5 Responses

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  1. This could very well be Time Inc. This could be the email that people at Time Inc. all expect to get eventually (except the part about the lack of layoffs – Time’s current senior management would never do something that isn’t evil).

    The current path of general interest printed periodicals like TIME and Newsweek is destined for an inexorable and painful slide into irrelevance. TIME’s storied brand is losing “equity” as an important news source online. The internet is about now – especially regarding news – not about TIME’s week-old analysis and reflection. I’m not sure if the next generation of readers care or know about TIME’s history enough to put it on their list of go-to sites, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t. Going online-only may address this.


    September 19, 2009 at 11:54 am

  2. […] the idea before on this blog about what would happen if a major media company actually had the guts to go fully digital, and unfortunately, CondeNast has decided to take the easy way out this time – on an issue […]

  3. […] the idea before on this blog about what would happen if a major media company actually had the guts to go fully digital, and unfortunately, CondeNast has decided to take the easy way out this time – on an issue that […]

  4. […] without trying to fully re-imagine it for the medium that digital broadband makes possible. I have discussed before on this blog my wish for some major publisher actually to have the guts to reinvent their title for the new […]

  5. Hey very nice blog!!….I’m an instant fan, I have bookmarked you and I’ll be checking back on a regular….See ya

    I’m Out! 🙂

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    January 10, 2010 at 9:19 pm

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