From the Editor: Are We in This for the Long Haul or What?
In this issue's Guest Column, Gregg Hano (group publisher of Bonnier's Technology Group) writes about the advent of upstart online content providers in spaces that should have been filled by publishers: "Inevitably, smart young entrepreneurs, less beholden to inherited business models, moved in and filled the breach."
It's a critical time in publishing, and one that is seeing many publishers grasping not only at fads, but at any immediate revenue opportunity. Quality seems to have fallen by the wayside. As Justin Smith says in the cover story, "The number of organizations that are paying people to think deeply on an issue, and then report it and write it … is dwindling by the second. As the competition dwindles, we are certainly doubling down on this."
When will publishers realize that lack of focus on editorial quality and integrity in publishing is like a lack of focus on food in a restaurant?
As columnist Bob Sacks writes in his column, "The answer to the publishing industry's woes is to provide something worth paying for. … Stop firing the editors and writers, and start paying for the production of excellence."
Today is the day to decide if we are in this business for the long haul. If we are, I think it's time we act like it.
Why do you think some companies are continuously successful? Over the years, I have cited Consumer Reports as the rock god of "doing things right." Four years ago, we invited John Sateja—Consumers Union's executive vice president and a member of Publishing Executive's advisory board—to deliver the keynote address at the Publishing Business Conference & Expo. A few b-to-b publishers said to me, "They're not relevant to our business. They don't run advertisements."
Not relevant? Consumer Reports (CR) has developed a successful model for delivering content to an engaged (and enormous) audience that is willing to pay for that content. Is that not what we all do, or strive to do? Where is the ad-supported model now? And what are publishers looking at now? Paid content models.