Journal Blazes Newspapers’ New Trail

This has been a long time coming. In 2006, online media finally took the lead in advertising dollars. Publishers, perhaps one of the last of the “old economy” bunch, finally acknowledged the imminent dominance of online media.

Over the years, print publications had put up websites - more as a defense play than a serious attempt to adapt their business models. These websites provided content recycled from print version. Seldom was there a differentiation between these two channels, other than the online distribution was for “stale” content – print first and online second.

There was good reason behind this strategy. Print customers paid and online customers expected content for free. How do you strangle your print cash cow to “give away” content on the internet for free? Some, like Wall Street Journal tried subscriptions online. Others, such as New York Times, had “premium” content that users paid for. However, the print revenues – primarily advertising and classified - always remained substantially higher. Till 2006, that is.

Now, publishers are waking up to the reality of online distribution of content. They have to migrate beyond setting up websites. They have to adapt their business models to factor in this new technology. Wall Street Journal is perhaps one of the first to make the shift. They have started a serious online media outlet at par with its vaunted print publication – with its own staff of “equals” and content.

This “milestone” is still a first step. A baby step in the adaptation of the business model. There is much more to come as publishers – after decades – have been forced to think like businessmen.

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Journal Blazes Newspapers’ New Trail author sourabhhajela



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