Great piece from Nieman Reports by BusinessWeek editor John Byrne titled “The changing truths of journalism.” He talks about how context is as important as the content itself and explains why publishers need to become “editorial curators” – sifting through and organizing articles (regardless of the source) and serving them back to communities of readers. Skip the first few grafs and get into the meat of how magazines and newspapers need to evolve in order to survive – as evidenced by BusinessWeek’s recent launch of Business Exchange, a series of online microcommunities organized (by readers) around vertical topics. Worth the read.
I was going to link to Rick Reilly’s column on cyberheckling from the March 26 issue of Sports Illustrated, but it’s not posted online. What’s up with that? It appears that SI is pulling back on Web access to its print articles, offering only a handful of “featured magazine links.” A curious development, since Time Warner has been aggressively building out the site with original content and is really pushing print subscribers to the Web with in-story teases (promoting, for example, exclusive team pages for every MLB team from within this week’s baseball preview issue). Walling off magazine content is an obvious play to protect the print franchise, but these tactics always seem to do more harm than good by pissing off subscribers who can’t find or forward their favorite you-gotta-see-this articles.
Interesting experiment in CGM going on at We Are Smarter Than Me, a community formed to co-author a book that examines the impact of communities on business. The braintrust behind the Wiki-like book project includes Barry Libert of Shared Insights, Jon Spector of the Wharton School, Timothy Moore of Pearson Education and Thomas Malone of MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Anyone can join the project; the website currently cites 829 registered members. The outline is posted and several of the chapters are in progress. There’s also a cool prediction tool on the site where members can bid on the success of the book. A draft is scheduled to be presented at the Community 2.0 conference in Las Vegas next March, with plans to publish the book next fall.
Interesting discussion going on here and here about SEM, link farms and the value of quality content. I’m an old-school news guy, so I’ve always argued for top-shelf editorial as a difference-maker for publishing companies. But in a market fueled by page views and unique visitors, it’s tougher to make that case these days. The “content lite” strategies of SEM “seagulls” (as David Churbuck cleverly calls them) is a chilling reminder of the devaluation of original, quality editorial.
I still believe content is king, but I also understand that it’s not enough to pay the bills in the digital world. For many media companies, the pendulum has swung fully on the side of driving online traffic (and revenues) through SEO and SEM – quality be damned – but I’m convinved that long term, there has to be a better balance between relevance and quality. The lesson applies not just to media companies; any marketer must understand that without good content, the message won’t stick.