The second act for newspapers and magazines

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The funeral procession for the American newspaper stretched across the land from Denver to Miami as longstanding newspapers went digital, bankrupt or belly-up. Magazines faced a similar fate when publishers like Conde Naste dumped some of their oldest titles with cries of budget concerns and dwindling audiences. Thousands lost jobs as the future of traditional publishing was left up in the air. As usual, the death knell was rung a tad prematurely. Media companies always find a way to reach audiences and to change so the tears were certainly unnecessary.

The New York Times, for example, just launched the newest version of  The  Times Reader which features  seven days of the paper in its entirety  for $3.45 a week, crossword puzzle included. This digital version is compatible with Macs and PCs while providing nifty page turning and highlighting elements. The paper also announced recently that it will be charging online readers a fee for selected content in 2011.  So the Times is gonna be just fine.

Magazines willing to adapt are surviving and thriving in new digital formats as well. Take Time magazine for example. The online version features a great Tech section, tons of lists, more articles and the capacity to cover late-breaking news, something their weekly could never pull off. National Geographic has stepped into the century with their super-cool 160GB hard disk that houses nearly every issues of the magazine and every stunning photo from 1888 to 2008.

Surprisingly, the biggest winner here is the small town, independent newspaper. These one or two man operations can generate real revenue online and in print. The low cost, do-it-yourself format that uses today’s available technology to compete with the big boys. Thanks to the Internet, small town weekly papers can be updated daily and run articles to be picked up by wire services.

Yes, the days of the young newsboys shouting the headlines from street corners are done. And yes, many beloved publications are gone (R.I.P. Gourmet). But new avenues mean more options for publicity, more ways to talk to customers, and more possibilities for growth which is what evolution is truly all about.


  1. says

    all print content will be on iPAD type devices in the future, but we all need something (especially the guys) for the bathroom rituals we have….lol

  2. DriveByMedia says

    I’m not convinced the revenues will be there. Sure they want us to pay. But will we? There’s so much free online. Interesting article.

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