The New Yorker takes one down, and passes it around – magazine articles, that is!
Editor Nicholas Thompson says that the jump in traffic has to do with their new emphasis on breaking stories and web-only stories. He also claims they’ve been working on basic SEO and Facebook open graph integration.
To prove they’re taking the web more seriously this year, The New Yorker has launched two new verticals in business and tech, which may be responsible for their 118% year-over-year boost in ad dollars between January and April, which were spent in the enterprise technology, financial services, luxury and automotive sectors. They also launched verticals in Books and Humor, and daily cartoons.
High-fives all around to New Yorker, who seem to really be wrapping their head around digital publishing. One of the most notable improvements to their content strategy, in the department of content recycling, is their new Double Take blog, where old New Yorker articles get recycled into new content.
On Aug. 5, an article entitled The Washington Post in the New Yorker starts off with a short story about the sale between Jeff Bezos and the Post. The article then excerpts all the other times in the past where New Yorker has talked about the Post and links to those old articles.
On June 13th, an article entitled The Thumb Drive Threat talks about a recent news article and then excerpts from a 2010 article on the history of thumb drives. I have to assume that this new blog is just one part of their “basic” SEO adjustments. Internal links and refreshed social media attention to old articles always help.
I’ve always known that The New Yorker had its head screwed on straight, but just wait until you see how incredibly well such a large organization has figured out how to organize multiplatform publishing while re-using the same content over, and over, and over again.
Publishing content on many platforms
Until recently, the New Yorker admitted to holding their print brand as their first priority, and only now, in 2013, are they taking their web presence more seriously. In our research, we’ve discovered nine different platforms that New Yorker is using to distribute content the content they’re producing for print and online.
For a traditional niche publisher, with much less content and surely a smaller wallet than New Yorker, we see magazine content get recycled something like this:
In this example, a magazine article turns into one chapter of a handbook. That one chapter gets turned into an entire free e-book, which is then disaggregated into several blog posts.
The New Yorker recycles their magazine content across many different platforms: web, email, videos, audio, issue archives, cartoon archives, merchandise, events and apps. In fact, I’m not sure that I’ve seen such a large organization able to pull it off this well.
The New Yorker Magazine
The New Yorker has been publishing news, fiction, essays, cartoons, poetry and satire every week since 1925 when Harold Ross and his wife Jane Grant (a New York Times reporter at the time) founded it. He wanted it to be “a sophisticated humor magazine” and edited The New Yorker until he died in 1951. Content from the magazine, as you’ll discover, is recycled across every platform that they publish. Every magazine churns out blog articles, audio, new additions to the Cartoon Bank, email newsletters, merchandise, you name it.
The New Yorker Portal
NewYorker.com is the web portal for all New Yorker content. They have found numerous ways to creatively recycle web and magazine content. Their Photo Booth blog gives backstories on the photos used on the site and in the magazine – both new and old photographs. As mentioned before, their Double Take focuses on taking news of the day and tying in old content published long ago. Their Cartoons column features a daily cartoon, including slideshows of all the cartoons published in the magazine that week.
They also have a Table of Contents that lists all of the recycled stories from the print issue. Some are only for paid subscribers, while some they let go for free. These paid posts give away around 300 words and then show shots of the printed article, including the date of the issue and what page it’s on if you decide to pick it up on newsstands. For fun, they also re-use covers of their magazine as an online jigsaw puzzle.
The New Yorker’s Email Newsletters
Emails promote a curated list of new articles from the website. Ideally, they would also have a section dedicated to snippets for members-only articles but they do not. Promotions from New Yorker regularly promote universal access to the magazine, always featuring a free gift. They also promote merchandise, like their 2014 Desk Diary, complete with old cartoons.
As you’ll learn, The New Yorker doesn’t have any trouble recycling content, and video is no exception. For example, on the video archive page right now, you’ll find an interview with Lena Dunham front and center. It’s an interview with her from their 2012 New Yorker Festival, and in the description of the video, you find a link to read a short article that goes with the video. So in this case, the event creates content that can be recycled in two places, through video and an article. And if you’re wondering why they’d feature an interview from 2012 in August of 2013, it’s because the article has an advertisement for the 2013 New Yorker festival in it. So smart.
The New Yorker Audio
New Yorker has a huge audio presence, including new podcasts that pop up several times per week. Each podcast pays homage to an article on the site or in the magazine. For example, the Aug. 5 Highway Robbery podcast is a commentary on an article titled Taken, which was first published in the print edition the same week. All of the podcasts have their own article pages which brief readers on the podcast and link to the related article that they’re referencing in the podcast. But wait, there’s more! The editorial staff at New Yorker get together every week to pick the best articles, and then read them out loud through an audio subscription that readers can only get through Audible for $69.99.
New Yorker‘s Issue Archive
If you’re a subscriber to the magazine, you can view the magazine, or any past issue of the magazine, through their Archive. Every Monday, subscribers get access to a new issue. The only way to get access to their digital archives online is by paying $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year for universal access. How better to recycle magazine content than by digitizing and putting them up online into an organized archive?
New Yorker’s Cartoon Bank + Licensing
The Cartoon Bank is a store that allows you to view and buy the rights to use their cartoons. There’s no set price for licensing any of the cartoons, so you have to fill out a form every time. The current cartoon editor for the New Yorker, Bob Mankoff, actually created the bank on his own in 1991 and sold it to The New Yorker. It now makes millions of dollars per year and according to Mankoff, “cartoonists receive from one-third to two-third of the windfall for every product that’s sold.”
New Yorker Merchandise
Conde’ Nast has a New Yorker store that sells everything from branded umbrellas to watches. However, they’ve recycled their magazine content effectively here too. For $125 you can buy a giclee print of a New Yorker cover, framed or unframed. For $139 you can get a print of a cartoon. For just $39.95 you can get an iPhone case printed with a cartoon or a cover. There are 33,096 items in the New Yorker store at present time ranging from $16.95, a box of note cards with some of the old cartoons printed on them, to $249, a pre-framed print from November 2012 of the Empire State Building at night. New Yorker is having no trouble figuring out how to make money by recycling old artwork.
New Yorker Events
The New Yorker Festival is a literary and arts festival. They pull in cultural icons over the course of a few days through different events. In 2011 they even organized an Arrested Development reunion, a show that got a second chance on Netflix this year after being cancelled.
And if you thought the above video strategy was a one-off, you’re wrong. They have a whole New Yorker Festival blog. Last year after the event concluded, they created a video post for all of their interviews and major events. Unfortunately, they haven’t updated the blog since last year, and probably won’t again until this year’s event is over, but they’re certainly getting a good bang for their buck.
The New Yorker Digital Magazine + Apps
It would be easy for The New Yorker to stick with simply creating a great magazine app, which they first launched in May 2011 and sold 20,000 iPad subscriptions by August of the same year. But they also have two other apps, which are both free and nice gifts to their readers: Goings On (for events and happenings in NYC) and the New Yorker Festival app, which helps attendees navigate the days of the event. The magazine app is available in the Apple and Google Play stores, but is also available for tablets in all the stores you can imagine: App Store (for iPad), Google Play magazine store, Amazon (for Kindle Fire), BN.com (for NOOK Tablet), Next Issue Media, E Ink edition for Kindle and NOOK.
If you haven’t noticed yet, The New Yorker is a major multiplatform publisher and for the first time in a long time, I can say that that a magazine this big is doing it right. And not only do they understand the concept of publishing on many platforms, but the content that they’re producing for the magazine can be seen in every single one of them. The New Yorker is a stand-up example of a magazine that “gets it.”
Even if you don’t have a brand that produces famous covers and cartoons each week, every single one of the other strategies can be applied to any organization. And just because you’re not famous for your artwork yet, who says you can’t be? Put down the stock photography subscription and find yourself a few good artists.
The next time you produce a feature article, ask yourself, what are five other things I can do with this?