Author Topic: Forbes 100 Years Old- Solves Print/Online Puzzle  (Read 85 times)

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Offline Ken Gigliotti

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Forbes 100 Years Old- Solves Print/Online Puzzle
« on: November 04, 2017, 12:37 PM »
Forbes Magazine turns 100, Editor and Chief Steve Forbes makes some interesting observations about the success of the business magazine that also makes sense for the newspaper business.

The bi-weekly magazine has unlocked a success formula both in print and online. The online product protects the printed product. A paper product publishing three days a week would save many millions of dollars for local papers in large Canadian cities. The online world opens up the possibility for many, on-time or just in-time products, separate, local weather (and road report) crime, pro sports NHL and CFL  come to mind.
Crime and courts should  no longer be in the mainstream product.These areas have become so disturbing that they could be in a separate product , these are black box items not for general reading with children or young families. Young families are afraid of what their kids will see on local  news or CNN,they want to avoid trying to explain the world to young kids. This is a new reality. But a black box product would be popular on it's own in a much wider audience.

It means doing more but spending less. There is a way.
The online product is  very different from the magazine. Forbes now publishes in 28 languages,68 countries, and operates 26 websites , 38 licenses , there is a Forbes India, Forbes on Fox, Forbes Women,and Forbes Travel. Talk about covering all the bases and growing places. Every newspaper has these very same ties. The magazine changed with the times.Forbes says the magazines print circulation is at it's highest point in history.

The magazine was started in 1917 by his grandfather B.C. Forbes  during WW1 and the same year as the Russian Revolution. The original name was Forbes -Devoted to Doers and Doing.The magazine survived the Great Depression by going with all freelance writers. I guess the freelance input would always be fresh ,hungry  and provide a variety of writing styles and points of view to this day.

The newspapers flourished also during this time taking a very different approach to staffing and these were golden years , before and after the Depression. If you look a individual newspaper website histories and NP history in general it seems their history and accomplishments started and ended by 1920. It became an industry of old buildings and old presses till 1980's. The offset press came into vogue less that twenty years before the internet.

The online product Forbes produced was done with a separate staff headed by Steve's brother Tim and an online content editor and it produce 99% different daily content than the bi-weekly magazine. Some newspapers like the Toronto Star kept a separate staff for their online product working in a different building and lower wage scale. At first most newspapers approached the web product like a hobby  using held stories , and dumping stories that would not make the paper. The web product originally was held back to preserve the paper product. Online stories were released at night after the paper product was printed. The idea was to use the same staff and management  to move the papers stories onto the web.The morning paper made newspapers followers in the media space when they were once leaders. 

The web destroyed standard reporting , Steve Forbes saw it first and adapted with a content formula that attracted millennials in the 2000's the way the magazine attracted readers in WW1.The content was designed to ‚Äúteach a a morality tale,provide a tool box to the reader for success...  to go beyond mere news and information.

I take that to mean that instead of proving random disconnected information the idea was to provide information that helps and inspire the reader to be better at what ever they are doing.

Newspapers instead focus on the failures, and the detail of failure, the sorrow and the impending future sorrow, without regard for the reader. Modern sorrow is not what this next generation wants to focus on. The newspaper way as applied to business  would focus on every failed enterprise , out of work employees and the pain of failure as well as  lost investment.

This is not a rejection of sorrow, just the portion size. Several generations have gone to school, accumulated great debt and have no job to show for it. This is an inter generational great depression for young people. They are hurting and the newspaper industry is oblivious to this pain. Our business names and profiles every micro generation. Gen X were called slackers. They are coming to power now and will never buy a newspaper.Why should they? The Greatest Generation that defeated the Nazis in WWII was made up of many generations, those who were of junior rank at West Point during WWI were generals in WWII along side of twenty something privates and sergeants.The Baby Boomers also spanned many decades.

Forbes is famous for it's magazine cover and it's 400 Richest people list.The list was started by Steve Forbes father, his staff at the time told him the list was impossible to tabulate. His father made the list anyway and the rest is history.What is notable is that in 35 years 1600 different people appeared on this list and only fifty remain from the original list. Warren Buffett commented that none have ever been short sellers. That is a sign of change. Number 374 on this years list ,his great-grandfathers cut hair in Italy,he cut hair and sold a line of hair products and is worth $2.1 billion. Yale student and Vietnam Vet came back from the war and started FEDEX. His Yale professor did not like the idea when he was in school. These small profiles would be very inspiring to anyone. There are 400 in this months magazine. The list also shows that Donald Trump has lost $600 million since becoming president. People are voting with their dollars, not going to Trump hotels and golf courses.

The web problem to heritage newspapers  was like the Star Trek ,Kobayashi Maru, a problem where every answer is the wrong one. The web diminished the paper product in every way. The answer was to hold back the promise of the future web in favor of a declining paper product. Forbes created different content with different and competitive staff and were successful.

The  Forbes content model created a magazine-a-day that was different from the printed magazine by having a thousand contributors  create new content. The magazine brand pushed  positive content that gave the readers a tool box for readers to be successful.

The idea is not to fire all the reporters. The idea is to make the information meaningful to the reader. This needs to be reflected in the original assignment. Can  new  readers be made to feel safe, can there be a constructive aspect , a context for knowing the details o the sorrow in every community.

Staff writers and columnists lives are an arc, they will revert to the comfort of things they did before. The newspaper stories become stories revisited by new reporters for a fresh take ,but the readers feel they have read these stories before.

Newspapers fall into a rut of things that re-occur every year like clockwork. This is another problem that gives the readers feeling of deja vu.The list of things newspapers can not do is long.

One solution is creating different content for both web and online on a scale that a local newspaper can handle.

 Create useful  content to the reader. Help the reader succeed. Opinion by Ken Gigliotti

« Last Edit: November 18, 2017, 02:39 PM by Ken Gigliotti »