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October 09, 2005

Internet norms spread to mainstream magazine

Stephen Baker

In this article about U.S. New's aggressive push toward the Internet, one section grabbed my attention.

So far this year, its ad revenues have fallen off. And many of the ads it runs are not high-quality paid pages but instead the type of ads where the magazine is paid by the number of customer inquiries generated.

This shows that even their print edition is migrating toward a pay-per-click Internet model. This trend is starting with distressed publications. But with time, more and more of the mainstream will be operating on Internet economics. The question at that point: How to pay for independent journalism that will set them apart? Many will decide to forego it.

I still think it would be an exciting time to be starting out in journalism. The old gatekeepers are losing their grip. That means it's ripe with opportunity, especially for young journalists who have an entrepreneurial edge and a readiness to try out new technologies.

But in the new scheme that's only now starting to take shape, fewer young journalists are going to enjoy secure careers within big news companies. That chapter's finished. No, they'll be cutting deals, moving into partnerships, figuring out how to repurpose their reporting for video, audio, print, interactive--and other media platforms we have yet to see.

10:21 AM

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Steve, I think it's incorrect to interpret an age-old practice in direct-marketing ads appearing in magazines as something that is migrating from the click-through model of the Internet. These ads have been around forever. Indeed, the business model -- pay per inquiry -- is the basis on which Ted Turner first built WTBS, the first cable "super station." When no one else would advertise on the stations, he started "selling" time to marketers and would base the rates charged on inquiries and sales the late-night ads would generate. Thus, the "sold only on TV" K-Tel records, Ronco products, and, ultimately, infomercials, were borrn.

Posted by: Rex Hammock at October 9, 2005 11:25 AM

Stephen, I agree wholeheartedly that this is the best time to go into journalism (I recently wrote an "open letter" on my blog to J-School students urging them to keep the faith). When I was in journalism school I had to decide between print or broadcast -- today it's less about the medium and more about the journalism, which is the way it should be.

Posted by: Gary Goldhammer at October 9, 2005 04:00 PM

Rex,

point taken that direct marketing was around long before the Internet. But I would argue that that model is now associated with the Internet, because the Internet is so good at providing feedback, and closing the informational loop. Advertisers, it now seems, are looking for some of the same qualities even in magazines.

Posted by: steve baker at October 10, 2005 12:06 AM


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