Can print media survive the transition to the Internet?
It's an awkward question at best, whose answer has seemed quite dismal over the past year. But now, with a struggling economy and fledgling print audience, International Data Group (IDG) has sought a probable answer.
As the world’s largest publisher of technology newspapers and magazines, including Computerworld, InfoWorld, PC World, Macworld and CIO, IDG has decided that there's no better time to transcend completely from print to online.
With a network of 300 print publications and 450 Web sites in 85 countries, IDG has worked to convert smaller magazines to online only, with a handful of larger, like InfoWorld, poised to make the cut.
The goal is not just to stabilize operating budgets by cutting print costs, but to increase profits as well. And so far it seems that revenue and audiences are growing.
As covered by a recent article in the New York Times, Patrick J. McGovern, the founder and chairman of IDG attributed their successes to a few guiding principles:
* Online first: By removing print and Web barriers from the editorial staffs of their publications, among the two dozen or so employees, most spend "80 percent of their time on the Web, while a handful of writers spend 80 percent of their time on the long centerpiece articles in the print magazine."
* Page Views are a Guide not a substitute for editorial judgment: Identifying that the fundamental difference between print and online was the ability to measure "precisely how many readers view a particular article on the Web — and how those results influence editorial decisions on what to write about."
IDG uses the feedback to help advertisers and staff alike, but chooses not to be solely guided by page views. Instead, they aim to package content in "digestible chunks" eliminating the longer worded essays and including more lists and sound bites.
* Offer online what you couldn't in print: By using short animations that explain complex technologies, as well as blogs and podcasts, reporters have more freedom to explore topics more deeply. In addition, the online magazines are more open to enlisting niche freelancers to cover specific areas of interest.
McGovern maintains that transitioning from print to Web isn't the end, but essentially the beginning to finding a "better life after print." Such optimism is the only alternative at this point, as any time spent not embracing the move online is financially ruining and creatively damaging.