Notes on the creation of a new media landscape

Posts Tagged ‘Nieman Fellows

Print-Digital Migration: A Pitch to Nieman

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This Wednesday (October 14) I’ll be carrying to the Nieman Fellows at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard my message about print’s inevitable migration to digital multimedia, which still seems to many in the publishing business a quixotic notion. I find this very peculiar. After more than thirty years in magazine publishing, about a third of that time at the head of three national magazines whose balance sheets I had to know almost as well as I knew their individual personalities, I find it exceedingly difficult to understand why this migration isn’t happening faster.

Since the 1980s, with few exceptions, mass-circulation print periodicals have relied increasingly on advertising for support rather than circulation, which has become in many cases a loss leader: A rate base inflated by cheap subscriptions supported aggressive ad pricing, but circ income in many cases went negative, sometimes deeply into the red, thanks to the cost of paper, ink and distribution.

What digital migration requires are three basic changes from the print model, all of which should be delicious for editors and publishers to contemplate: 1) eliminate the cost of paper, ink and distribution; 2) charge much less for a subscription; and 3) vastly improve the editorial product through the addition of video, audio, Flash animation and infographics that move.

Please explain this to me: What’s not to like?


Written by Jim Gaines

October 12, 2009 at 5:03 pm