Good news, bad news: why publishers won’t stop the race to the bottom anytime soon
Kernel Magazine editor Milo Yannopoulos went on a visit to Berlin, and was impressed with the entrepreneurial drive of publisher Axel Springer, which has been buying up media startups at an impressive clip, Kernel reports:
Axel Springer seems to have grasped what smaller media start-ups have known for some time: that the only thing consumers will pay for is focused, high-quality content – normally comment and analysis – professionally produced and attractively presented. All else is noise, commercially speaking.
The publishers who have embraced this attitude are seeing their print and subscription numbers rise quickly, and their revenues from digital products grow many times faster than their competitors: the FT, the Economist, the Wall Street Journal, Private Eye and the Spectator are examples of journalistic products that have a chance of survival. (Note too that not all of those are digital products.)
I think a few aspects that are vital to the success of the titles he mentions is their international reach, the fact that they’re published in English (it’s not trivial), but most importantly: the fact that a large majority of them target niche audiences.
So the good news that Kernel sees in publishing is also bad news: generalistic publications aimed at small, national markets are going to face increasing competition from user generated content on social networks on the one hand and from specialised, vertical publishers on the other hand. This is already happening in fashion, design, tech. And I think that even in subjects like sports, where traditional publishers historically were very strong, it probably won’t be long before we’ll see the biggest, most specialised bloggers get exclusive or at least preferential access to big names – probably (hopefully) at the expense of the useless round table “junkets” that offer very little value in terms of the content that it yields.
Unfortunately, it means that a lot of publishers will inevitably be locked in the race to the bottom – aka clickwhoring – that Yannopoulos despises. (Everybody claims to despise it, yet everybody does it – let’s count our blessing that we don’t have a European Kim Kardashian).
Photo: “Paper rock” (it’s okay to laugh, is it?)
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