Magazines 24/7 Coverage: Print Vs. Web – The Editorial Challenge

Editors gather for a candid discussion about what’s working online and what isn’t

Jacob Weisberg, Chairman & Editor-in-Chief of The Slate Group, opened this session by asking: Why aren’t magazines better online? And how can we turn it around?

Paul Maidment, Editor, Forbes said that magazines on the whole failed to cross a fundamental point, which is that what they produce everyday is not a physical product, it’s journalism. How you present that journalism must be driven by the needs of your audience.

“If your audience wants your information on a screen, in person, in whatever medium they consume information, you need to provide it,” said Maidment.

Once that is understood, the rest can fall into place. Clearly, his company has been way ahead of the game, as they shared those thoughts with us in an interview years ago.

Most traditional publishers don’t take the time to understand their online readers

Gail Glickman Horwood, SVP, Programming & Strategy, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia said publishers don’t spend enough time understanding their online readers, as they are very different from print readers. She said the common goal should be to serve your audience.

Your audience is smarter than you think they are. You need to be transparent and clear, and as long as you trust them, they will trust you. We applaud Martha for engaging with her online audience on her very personal (and popular) Martha Blog and Twitter account. She clearly understands her online audience.


Newsweek: We’ve completed the first step in our 12-step program

Geoff Reiss, General Manager, Newsweek Digital said that Newsweek is only now making the transition by defining themselves from a platform to a brand. He said they’ve successfully completed the first step in a 12-step program, “we know we have some problems.”

The separation between church and state has always been there and only now are they finally realizing it’s possible to maintain integrity with consumer. “Our audiences have lots of choices and it’s so easy to shut them out right now if you’re not careful,” he warned.

It’s essential to reverse the priority from print to online

Weisberg noted that his company is exclusively online and they only have to think about one thing.

But every place where print and online both exist, print is the priority because all the revenue is there. Is it possible to reverse the priority?

“It’s essential,” said Maidment. He said the biggest crime is to call a difference between the two kinds of editors. Forbes is trying to get to a point where every editor is platform agnostic. At any one time, they can be working in just one media, but they can’t have a staff that’s only comfortable in one medium.

Predictions: each panelist will be in print in 10 years, but half the audience won’t

Weisberg asked in 10 years from now, will you still be printed as a magazine?

Reiss predicted that Newsweek will still be in print and it will account for half the company’s revenue with ¼ of profits coming from print. He also predicted that half the folks in the room won’t exist in print 10 years from now.

Horwood predicted they Martha Stewart still be in print, noting that any magazines with great photographic content will still be in print 10 years from now. She estimated a similar revenue prediction as Reiss.

Maidment agreed and predicted that Forbes will also still be in print.

More Magazines 24/7 Coverage:

Are Paid Membership Websites the New Black?
Executives from ESPN, Rodale and Harvard Business Review discuss the challenges and benefits of charging users for online content

Rethinking Decision-Making in a 2.0 World
Google’s Analytics Evangelist, Avinash Kaushik, tells magazine publishers why some of their sites “suck” and what kind of thinking is required to fix them

Raising the Digital Bar in a Down Economy

Panelists share digital revenue percentages and thoughts on how they might increase revenues in the coming months and years


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