Thursday, Newsweek announced 2013 will mark the end of an era for this 80-year-old print publication. The declaration was made by Tina Brown, editor-in-chief (of Newsweek Daily Beast Co.) and CEO Baba Shetty. Yes, they’ll continue to provide a digital edition, but it won’t be the same.
This came as sad news for me on many fronts.
- It’s not so much that another magazine has all but virtually folded, but more a sorrow that what used to be a solid source for relatively unbiased reporting adopted the conviction sensationalism sells (apparently not to their established audience).
- Nor does this offers proof for the prognosticators doomsday knell sounding for decades on all things print. New print publications are cropping up daily that feature celebrity gossip, right-wing or left-wing alarmist drivel and the latest on what passes as news from fiction writers. What’s discouraging is the number of publications ditching what they do well to join the yellow journalism bandwagon.
- The situation begs the question, do today’s readers really prefer to invest in material that propagates rumor, instills divisiveness and presents fantasy as news? I hope not.
- Perhaps the most disappointing feature of all this is how little media attention was devoted to this news.
Is online reporting really the answer?
Yes, studies are showing a majority of people now get their news from the internet. Unfortunately, even the established biggies have been guilty of casting integrity and fact-checking aside in deference to being quick to report. News spreads fast once a story hits the wire services – or web, for that matter – with few bothering to verify accuracy before they broadcast.
The increasing tendency for citizens to seek their educational fodder in sound bites doesn’t bode well for an enlightened future population. Sometimes you need to read more than a paragraph to be informed.
‘Give the people what they want’ may be a good marketing strategy, but when it comes to being a responsible journalist, doing so without verifying the facts is just plain irresponsible. It seems those who would cringe (and know they can get sued) for stories printed without verification cast this notion aside online.
Digital is quick, but it’s not always best. If you’re focused on being first (which seems to be the aim of so much cloud reporting), it’s hard to justify the time to ensure you’re right.
Smart entrepreneurs seek out print media thriving for the right reasons
I was shocked to discover the Rochester Business Journal (New York) is celebrating their 25th anniversary this year. My surprise came because it seemed the publication had been around a lot longer.
This publication did it right from the start. Unlike the daily papers (now down to one), they had high standards for any staffer they hired. Recruiting such proficient and loyal contributors requires sufficient incentives. It shows.
They’ve been extremely effective at imbedding themselves in the community with initiatives that go beyond the printed publication. As annual sponsors of a number of business awards or employee recognition ceremonies they created more revenue streams and brilliant marketing devices.
Digital delivery is offered mostly as a subscriber benefit. This is available to print subscribers and also as a fee-for-service option to those who seek only online content.
To entice prospects, a daily e-mail brief is provided at no cost. Sadly, spelling errors, bad links, grammatical mistakes and nonsensical headlines are frequent, so apparently the quality standard isn’t being carried through here. Still, the daily digest offers free snippets and linkable content to online stories to entice prospects to buy.
This publication grows its print demand by keeping themselves visible and important in the community. They understand what their readers seek (through surveys and other engagement activities) and produce responsive content. Reporters are held to accountability standards and stay in an industry that typically has a lot of turnover. While diversification is rarely a smart business strategy, this company has done so in a way that forwards their mission, bolsters their marketing efforts and gives advertisers an array of options while adding handsomely to the bottom line. Smart stuff any small business can learn from.
Good news for small businesses
Any small business considering promotional strategies should incorporate the media. Of course, free editorial content – whether you’re authoring an article or being quotes as a trusted source in a story scribed by another – can be huge in terms of reach and credibility. The media also offers a lot of clues as to what works and what doesn’t. Note well which ones are doing it right and those missing the mark. Build rapport with players at respected and profitable publications. You might be amazed at how quickly you can put yourself in the limelight with some smart and targeted effort.