Which comes first: print or online?

April 2, 2009

In the magazine industry, the typical state of affairs is that the print product is primary, and web comes second. The bulk of the resources (be that time, money or staff) go to print, and online gets just enough to survive.

Which is fine, if your only goal is to succeed in print. But if you want to have a truly great website, you can’t always see it as second best. After all, you’re not just competing with other magazine websites. You’re competing with the entire online world, including many amazing websites with no print product to worry about at all.

Obviously revenue is an issue here. Our websites just aren’t bringing in a comparable amount of money as our magazines. But let’s be clear: while many magazines are still cherished by many readers, they’re not all going to survive the Internet age, and those that do will have to evolve. The web just does so many things better than print.

So when making decisions about your website, stop and think: is this the choice I would make if the website were all I had? Or am I doing this because I think of the website as a complement to the magazine?

If it’s the latter, that’s fine. Just be sure that it’s a conscious decision – and you’d better be confident that it’s the right one.

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4 Responses to “Which comes first: print or online?”

  1. E. Kimbell Says:

    I’ve heard the phrase “magic bullet” tossed around by media members wondering what the next business plan will be. It really is a mystery, since the age-old moneymaker of print advertising certainly isn’t the same.

    But as you said – the online news media moneymaker has yet to be discovered. So many newspapers and magazines scoffed in the early and mid-90s when the Internet made its debut, but now the emperors and empresses have lost their print dynasty.

    What’s next is truly a mystery, I think. But I certainly hope that us journalists will know sometime soon.

  2. Angela Says:

    How many webpages can one Web editor manage and still maintain a high-quality Web product?

  3. Kat Says:

    Hi Angela,

    That really depends on a number of factors, I’m afraid there’s no easy answer. If you’d like you can send me an email with more details and I can try and answer.

  4. sunehra Says:

    The Knot really surprises me because it’s web product is it’s primary product.


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