Saturday, March 28, 2009

Reports of the demise of print are still greatly exaggerated

Our local alt weekly, the Washington City Paper, just ran a Best Of issue, which includes a lot of weird categories other than, you know, pizza and stuff. Because they are supposed to be all alternative after all. Anyway, they are one of those papers that is teetering on the edge of going out of business, so of course one of the things they found interesting to consider was Best Media Business Model.

They chose a local paper I freelance for, for the reasons below.

The Current newspapers, which cover all manner of community happenings over a wide swath of the District, have fashioned the best media business model around. They make an indispensable weekly print product, distribute it like mad, and spend a pittance on their Web presence. They post their content in PDFs but don’t bother with much else: no blogs, no videos, no mold-breaking interactive features, and no millions of dollars spent on traffic-enhancing upgrades. Their entire Web strategy says, in essence, “Go find the paper.”

The result? “We’ve never had a layoff,” says Publisher Davis Kennedy.

Of course, this commentary neglects the factor that the paper obviously has absolutely FANTASTIC freelancers who are willing to work for very little.... What is probably actually relevant about that, to be serious, is that a big reason that one keeps writing for them - instead of getting off one's butt to search for better-paid work - is that they are not a complete pain in the ass to work with. Which IS part of a good business model.

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