Most magazines and newspapers (shockingly, not all) have launched online, in one form or another, but far fewer have figured out a way to get people to consistently pay for or read stories and visual content that used to drive newsstand sales, print subscriptions and advertising, all of which have been squeezed over at least the last decade. Publishers of magazines and newspapers seem focused on how to carry on with all of those things instead of testing entirely new ways of delivering and paying for content.
Amy Webb, a former journalist turned futurist and New York University professor has done extensive data-based research. She comes off as rather frustrated by the slow pace of change in the industry and has singled out a number of areas relating to the way people consume media that will do little but cause publishers more pain if they go ignored.
- First, there’s the industry notion that young people will eventually come around to reading and appreciating a print product, which Webb says is unlikely for so many consumers who did not grow up reading in print and have no basis for that behavior to form. Then, there’s the increased relentlessness of the news cycle itself leaving readers to engage much differently with content, than they did even five years ago.
- Both of these relatively new phenomenons need new solutions, but the fight for our ever-crowded attention spans shouldn’t excuse publishers’ lack of innovation and experimentation with not only content but distribution and revenue. Maybe news outlets should start devising ways of packaging and distributing content? Maybe readers would like to choose the format they get their news in, be it video, blurb or full article? Maybe advertisers would like that too? Maybe the entire construction and presentation of newspapers and magazines, little changed in roughly 125 years, is due for an overhaul? Or maybe publications should take a page from social media and get together to build a single news platform, where readers can get reported pieces and interact?
Webb’s point is that there can be no solution if leadership simply asks, “what’s next?” and waits for technology and readers to advance past what their publications are offering.
Source: Hays, K. (2018, August 31). Future of Media Demands Radical Change. Women’s Wear Daily.
Editor’s Note: This is the second of two commentaries from industry voices that propose strategic changes in media covering Print/Digital (last week’s feature: Television).