This ought to get the “real journalism is dying” crowd going…We got a note this morning from a friend who has read BusinessWeek for decades (until recently).
He’s old enough to fit squarely in BusinessWeek target demo–sophisticated, mature folks who love their newsprint, don’t have a frenetic job that commands their attention 24/7, and therefore have time to read magazines. He also thinks new-owner Bloomberg has done great things with BusinessWeek.
But he doesn’t read it anymore.
I AM NOT SURPRISED BY THE DECLINE IN BUSINESS WEEK. I HAVE READ IT FOR YEARS—OBVIOUSLY PRE-BLOOMBERG—-AND SINCE BLOOMBERG HAS TAKEN OVER IT HAS NEVER BEEN MEATIER WITH GOOD ANALYSIS. BUT IN TODAY’S DAY AND AGE WHEN YOU ACTUALLY HAVE TO READ IT, THE PAGES LOOK DAUNTING WITH PRINT AMD MUST BE A TURNOFF TO MOST READERS OF TODAY. I FIND I HAVE TO SPEND A LOT OF TIME WITH IT BECAUSE OF ITS CONTENT AND THAT HAS TO BE A NO-NO FOR A PUBLICATION TO SUCCEED.
ON THE OTHER HAND I SUBSCRIBE TO BICYCLING AND THEY CONVERTED EACH OF THEIR PAGES TO LOOK LIKE WHAT ONE USE TO CALL A GUI. A FEW BRIEF SUBJECTS ON EACH PAGE.
We can already hear the screams: “The death of real journalism!” “The decline and fall of western civilisation!” The end of “investigative reporting”!
And, of course, as always, those screams are a bunch of crap.
As is obvious to anyone who spends any time on the Internet, journalism has never been healthier. Similarly, the world has never been better informed. And of course it is: There is no way a world with a few powerful gatekeepers like BusinessWeek could EVER be as well-informed as a world in which millions of reporters and sources and fact-checkers can publish to the entire planet for free 24 hours a day.
What HAS changed is recent years is that fewer and fewer people have hours to spend luxuriously leafing through old news in magazines.
Thanks to the Internet and the iPhone and 24/7 global communications, devoting that sort of time and attention to one stale news source feels almost Bacchanalian in its excess. And when a busy reader is forced to wade through the page-long “anecdote” that magazine articles traditionally begin with, the attitude of the magazine editor almost seems rude. (“How dare you presume that I have all day to figure out what you’re going to say? Who do you think I am? Donald Trump?”)
So it’s the way information is presented and communicated that has changed, not the demand for information itself.
(And, of course, for those who still can’t get enough of endless magazine articles–which is certainly a place for–rich companies like Bloomberg are happy to lose money providing them.)
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