Why Web-Forward Media Companies Are Turning To Print
There has been plenty of press lately about online properties going print. It’s hard not to be drawn into these stories and see them as silver linings after a year of “print is dead” hysteria. However, these launches, though encouraging, are less a bellwether for the health of the publishing industry and more of a reminder of what makes magazines valuable to begin with.
Seeking an answer to the question of why online publications are exploring print, we interviewed indie rock music purveyor Pitchfork Media, science journalism magazine Nautilus, and political media outlet Politico. And while these are not purely web properties—Politico originally launched as and still publishes a daily newspaper—they are very much web-forward media companies that offer a unique perspective on the print form.
A Deeper, Lasting Experience
Pitchfork Media is very much a product of the internet. It came along as a blog in 1995 and filled a void by reporting on up-and-coming indie rock bands. Pitchfork covered music that wouldn't have received mainstream press and maybe only gotten noticed by photocopy-paper "fanzines" popular in underground music scenes in the 80s and early 90s.
Since its inception, Pitchfork has taken slow and deliberate steps to expand its coverage and products. In 1995, Spin or Rolling Stone might have scoffed at the idea an indie rock blog becoming anything more than just that. Now Pitchfork has about 5 million unique visitors per month, a weekly mobile and tablet app, an annual music festival, a film site called The Dissolve, and in December 2013 it launched a print quarterly called the Pitchfork Review.
So why would a born-and-bread online publication with a young, hip audience decide to publish a 160-page quarterly printed on heavy stock at a cover price of $19.96 a pop? Quite simply: to provide its audience a new way to experience its unique brand of music journalism.
Related story: Data-Driven Publishing: Know Thy Audience
Denis Wilson is the content director for Target Marketing, Publishing Executive, and Book Business, as well as the FUSE Media and BRAND United summits. In this role, he analyzes and reports on the fundamental changes affecting the media and marketing industries and aims to serve content-driven businesses with practical and strategic insight. As a writer, Denis’ work has been published by Fast Company, Rolling Stone, Fortune, and The New York Times.