You can read dozens of stories here about digital media and many other topics, and never see more than one of them disappear. The history of magazines is a constant tale of (mostly) print companies chasing a digital future that won’t ever happen, but the people who read newspapers are a different breed. Print newspaper companies should survive, and probably need to survive in the face of dramatic changes like the declining newspaper ad market.
The obvious question is “Why?” What made these traditional print magazines disappear while blogs are poised to continue, and possibly grow even faster?
It’s not just a function of the market. I have an old theory about print publishing that goes back to the 1950s, when I was a kid and magazines began to use newspaper layouts for a fraction of the price (an obvious trick, since newspapers are cheap to produce). The conclusion I reached is that the circulation figures in traditional magazines are not dependent on how many people want to buy them, it’s dependent on how many people who want to buy them actually can.
It’s not about who is doing it better, it’s about who is doing it better. So why are newspapers killing themselves to remain relevant, but newspapers’ response to this problem is to push back even harder?
The web is killing magazines too, but that’s not going to happen on the scale that newspapers seem to be losing their audience to. This is a particular issue with the print magazines that have remained competitive in the digital world: they haven’t kept up.
And that’s why I started this website. Maybe one day blogs will kill off all the magazines and newspapers we love, but for now they’re still getting bigger, especially when it comes to news websites.
The top 25 news websites are expected to drive a total of 24.1 billion online views this year, according to figures from Quantcast (source: The Webmaster’s Organization). That’s almost one quarter of all the newspaper stories in the US, but on average, blogs (assuming no more than 1,000 readers per blog) drive closer to 20 million unique visitors per month. More people are consuming media online than ever, and everyone has something to say about it.
So why are blogs so good for society? Is it the way they’re linked together? It is, because it creates a public conversation where everyone gets to talk to everyone, and to push back if someone tries to try to pretend they aren’t real. Maybe bloggers are our first real (print) representatives.
Is it because they’re on the web, or is it because of the way they link to other media sites? It’s all of the above, because blogs are real media.
Something has changed in the media world, and we’re still trying to figure it out. Blogs are still too small to be a real media company, and they’re definitely too small for newspapers, but in the same way that a new casino fights for market share by offering something that has been missing from the existing market, they’re surely gaining good ground.