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Friday, October 03, 2008

The Future of Business Media Part 3

So can the magazine model be reinvented? Is there any future other han squezzing the last drop of cash from magazines as they die from news disintermediation by the Internet, the collapse of recruitment advertising and paid sales, and the slow but crushing decline of display advertising.

Lets start with news. It's a commodity right? No one is going to pay for news unless it is bespoked for them - and even that is not without doubt. Also, news has to be up to the minute. The clue is in the word "new". With news available 24/7 and even the worst of the business media websites posting several times a day, what could you publish in a mag that was genuinely new.

Today most editors are doing what they always did. The result is that by the time the article is printed and on the desk of the reader, it isn't news, its olds. News must be information not previously known to the reader. How can this be done in print in a digital world? The answer is simple. The news editor has to move the story on. If a news event has happened and already been reported on the web, even if it has been reported in a website not owned by the magazine, the news editors task is not to repeat the story, but to move it on. How might this be strucured in a news report in a our new magzine? The standfirst might usefully be a summary of the story so far, ("It has been reported that.....) but the body of the copy must move the story on. An interview with people in or affected by the story. An analysis of the implications of the story for the industry. A back analysis of how the story came about. A summary of what has been said about the story in other media or on industry blogs. You can think of more ideas I am sure. The challenge for the news desk is that this involves work. Reading stuff, calling people, making notes, thinking. It won't be good enought to re write the press release sent by the publicity department.

All this means fewer stories, because each one will require more work. I can just about imagine that it would be useful to publish a round up of what has happened this week, possibly in the style of "The Week", but other wise news editors of a post digital revolution business magazine should erase the word "nib" from their vocabulary.

In the next piece we will look at what might fill the rest of the pages.

Meanwhile you can read parts 1 and 2 here and here.

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