When William Randolph Hearst bought his second newspaper in 1895—The New York Morning Journal—he also shelled out big salaries to poach excellent talent like Stephen Crane and Richard F. Outcault. He knew then what is still true today: good content is worth good money.
The problem is that nobody’s paying for it anymore.
Eat Sleep Publish is a blog dedicated to exploring and understanding the challenges (and no doubt opportunities) facing newspapers, books, and magazines as they strive to understand the new medium and find ways to support themselves in the digital age.
Almost every newspaper now offers its content online for free, relying on dwindling subscription and print ad revenues to underwrite the salaries in the newsroom. Even though online ad spending is on the rise, the format of the internet doesn’t provide the same revenue opportunities for publishers that print media have supplied for decades.
Magazines have remained more insulated from the internet. Some magazines, like PC Gamer, have chosen to keep all of their content offline, inaccessible even to their paying print subscribers. Others, like The New Yorker, offer some content online for free, but provide some pieces only in the print edition.
But even The New Yorker is relying on the viability of its printed publication, and that is unlikely to last forever.
Unlike magazines or newspapers, books have not historically relied on advertising revenue to stay afloat. Although digital prices are lower, people still expect to make a one time purchase for their books, and the Kindle’s built in store makes it easy for readers to buy new titles.
Will newspapers and magazines need to move from the computer onto new, digital devices to stay profitable? Maybe.
Will readers ever be willing to pay for news again, or have they been spoiled by what is available for free online? I don’t know.
I will be talking with writers, editors, and publishers about the pros and cons of various strategies. I will be asking about what ideas have been tried, which ones have succeeded, which have failed, and why.
By doing all of this and writing about it, I hope to better understand what has made this industry tick, why the clock is stopping, and how it can be rewound.
About Jason Preston
Jason has worked with clients on shaping blogger engagement strategies, creating blogs, conceptualizing Facebook applications, and has spoken about Social Media at the Web Community Forum and at PodCamp Seattle. He has been quoted on social media and online communication technologies in the Sydney Morning Herald and in The Observer.
His knowledge of the classical publishing world, and how it intersects with the internet, grows with every post.