“The Washington Times Tries to Reinvent Itself,” New York Times Jan. 27, 1992
via Bill on Capitol Hill
…well at least as they had been know.
Before, “publishing” meant printing information on sheets of paper. The Internet, in particular Google and social networking sites, disrupted this model. A fact that has been explored endlessly, so instead lets look at what’s possible.
The traditional revenue model was based on selling space. In particular ad space, typically measured in pages. The equations was very simple; higher consumer demand (circulation) creates greater advertiser interest, which results in more ads sold at higher rates.
The content, in this context, is viewed more as a binder.
sidebar: My journalist friends don’t bombard me with tweets and emails. I know that the value of journalism is informing, educating, and eliciting reactions. Hopefully one that makes the world a better place. I never have and never will discount the benefits society reaps form your efforts.
One doesn’t have to step back far to see that publishing is an information business, much like credit scoring agencies or teaching. All of which have three fundamental business processes; collecting, filtering, and connecting. Of these three it is the two ends that are under the most pressure.
Let’s first explore the collecting process. This has traditionally been undertaken be a staff of reporters that go out into the coverage area to dig-up potential stories of interest. Yes reporters were able to derive some leverage from tips to reduce wasted time, but that was nothing compared to the current leverages derived from technology. Communication driven leverage increases their ability to harness and process an exponentially higher number of story opportunities. In fact, this segment of the process has been flipped on its head. Reporters are able to be highly efficient because potential stories are now coming to them. Their activities now include filtering, something that was done further down the production line. Stories don’t fly under their radar screen, with more timely and numerous connections/perspectives they deliver richer insights, and more articles can be deliver in the same time span.
For many decades the desired action from an article was to elicit a reaction. This is still true today but publications, to be more precise reporters, are being look upon to take the role of tour guide – facilitate the discussion. Dialog that spills beyond the edge of the publication and extends the story beyond a traditional life cycle. Media is no longer just about content, but relationships and linkages between content.
This is happening in all information-based businesses, as exemplified below.
“The important business model idea here is that the role of the person putting the course together is not necessarily to create content, or to transfer it into the heads of the students. The main jobs here are aggregating and filtering – compiling information, figuring out what is essential, and then creating a framework within which students can explore this knowledge using all of tools (mental, physical and digital) at their disposal.”
– Tim Kastelle
Eventually, publishing will mean distributing relevant, contextual information when, how, and at what quality (value) level the end user wants it. A dynamic future awaits premium content creators if they can jump the print-to-digital chasm.
If incumbents are to be successful in the digital realm, they will need to integrate mediums and develop new skills. It requires new thinking.