Thursday, October 8, 2009

Print Vs Online

This week it was announced that Gourmet Magazine, which has been an American Culinary Institution for 70 years will now shut it's doors. Since it was announced a furor of on-line articles and print articles have been wading into the collective consciousness discussing the ramifications of this action. Granted we are quickly watching PRINT media darlings falter in this new Internet Age of information and there is a fundamental problem that is being over-looked.

Here is a quote from Chris Kimbal's Op Ed piece in the New York Times:

"The shuttering of Gourmet reminds us that in a click-or-die advertising marketplace, one ruled by a million instant pundits, where an anonymous Twitter comment might be seen to pack more resonance and useful content than an article that reflects a lifetime of experience, experts are not created from the top down but from the bottom up. They can no longer be coronated; their voices have to be deemed essential to the lives of their customers. That leaves, I think, little room for the thoughtful, considered editorial with which Gourmet delighted its readers for almost seven decades. To survive, those of us who believe that inexperience rarely leads to wisdom need to swim against the tide, better define our brands, prove our worth, ask to be paid for what we do, and refuse to climb aboard this ship of fools, the one where everyone has an equal voice."
There is an issue with what is happening in the world of print and online and this great transition and fundamentally, there is an economic problem. Blogs (like the one you are reading now) are usually started because someone has an idea, some time on their hands, and the need to voice an opinion. The second reason they are started is to make some money. However, Blogs are so ubiquitous right now, that no one is really making any money except the idiot withe pink website that we don't want to talk about anymore. A few are rising to prominence. In fact, I got my quote from Chris Kimble from Ed Levin's Serious Eats Blog.

Blogging is a speculative business. My own podcast project The Starting Zone is getting some nice number and great traffic, but we're not making a cent off that site. The best we see are a few donations tossed our way to cover server space.

So, there is no money in the internet, but there was money in Print, but Print is dying because no one is using print and just using the internet... where is that money going?

Who knows really, where the money is going. My guess, people are shoveling it more towards rainy day savings accounts these days. Sure, my wife used to keep a nice little subscription to a few magazines, but she's since abandonned them so we can save a few bucks, and now she's using free online resources.

We all know that the Print businesses haven't really successfully managed to transition over to the internet. Deadline Hollywod Daily is the premier entertainment source on the net, and it surpasses Variety and Hollywood Reporter. However, both of the former Entertainment blab mags, are wallowing in a contracting market. They are losing money in the print game, but can't seem to get their share back in internet game. Why? Because the only way to make money outside of selling a product on the internet is through advertising. And since they lose their ability to sell subscriptions on the internet, they are stuck with the issue of accepting lower ad returns. Print Media, gets' to 'sell' their writing as well as make money in advertising. However, on the internet that model doesn't work because some schmuck is willing to give their writing away for free cutting about 50% of the cost model out of your equation for print business.

So, what happens when all the Print has in essence, died off? Well, perhaps Internet sites not charging now, might start charging. Who knows? Rupert Murdoch claims his Fox New site is going to go to a subscription service soon. Will it work? Well, it kind of has to. There is going to be a lot of folks formerly employed in the Print game who will be out of work without a company that can pay them to do what they used to do.

Economically the world cannot afford to lose Publication without a viable industry there to replace it. It's an interesting concept when you really think about it. What if an industry goes away, and there is nothing to replace it? Moreover, does the quality of writing suffer, when folks are not able to devote a career or vocation to the art of the writing, especially criticism.

What do we do in a world without critics?

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