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Exciting time for magazine consumers, scary for staff

Andrea Weinfurt

Andrea Weinfurt

An one-stop shop for magazine content is just around the corner.  With e-readers emerging as a hot topic in the magazine industry, the idea of selling content in one centralized location has become a priority.

A new publisher’s consortium was recently announced and includes publishing big wigs Conde Nast, Hearst, Meredith, Time Inc. and News Corp. The group will work together to sell digital content from a single hub, similar to Hulu.com.

While this new product may be more accessible, it could spell doom some magazine staffers. Like iTunes, where individual songs are available for purchase, this new product could separate a magazine’s content and sell it in a single serving.

Users could sift through material and purchase only the articles of interest to them. Excerpts from articles seem a likely way to lure consumers to purchase the entire article but it raises the question:  what happens to those struggling writers without an established following?

The prospect of having success measured by individual story sales is daunting.  With magazine staffs dwindling, this new product could serve as a scorecard for writers. If a story doesn’t sell well, is the writer’s job in danger?

Gawker infamously implemented a pay scale based on page views and the site, and particularly its owner Nick Denton, were widely criticized.  Editors quit in protest and complained content was being sensationalized in order to attract page views. Magazine writers could face the same pressure of attracting sales but at the risk of sacrificing credibility.

Since it is only in its planning phases, it’s hard to know what the end product will look like for consumers and could provide content across many digital devices. With content so accessible, magazines could see a considerable upswing in sales and it could jumpstart the struggling industry.
What do you think this new product means for consumers? What does it mean for writers and editors at these magazines? Will this new product drive a difference in the content provided?

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Cision's research staff makes over 20,000 media updates to Cision's Media Database each day! For more updates and other thought leadership in the industry, follow @Media_Moves.

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