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The “death of print” rhetoric has reached new heights – and not without some merit. Last month, Daily Mail publisher DMGT reported that each of the group’s operating divisions saw growth – except DMG Media, which publishes the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Metro. Overall revenue for both the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday declined 6% to £287m in the six months leading up to March. Returns for print across the pond seems to fare no better; Dr. Mark Perry, an economist based at the University of Michigan, reported earlier this year that print revenues in 2012 fell to $18.9 billion in 2012 – the lowest number since the Newspaper Association of America began tracking industry data in 1950.
Based on these numbers, you’d be forgiven for wondering why Tech City News is launching its first quarterly print journal this week after launching online earlier this year.
The answer comes down to niche. Under the “print” umbrella, ad revenue looks dismal. But both DGMT’s results, as well as Perry’s data, concern newspapers. What’s more rarely mentioned in the “dying print news” noise is the niche for B2B titles focused on specific target markets. The Financial Market’s Quentin Casey recently wrote an excellent article on entrepreneurs who have thriving publications – both print and online – due to knowing their audience inside and out.
The truth is that print is far from dead. There’s a place for it, but unlike many others before us we’ve made a key decision to split the editorial from the website because I believe print and online are entirely different products.
Last week, the once-defunct Newsweek announced a move back to print in early 2014. Editor-in-chief Jim Opoco said the new edition will be “more Economist, less Time” in its revenue approach – aka, focused on subscription revenue rather than advertising.
Tech City News won’t be charging readers for subscriptions. Controversial as it may sound, the traditional advertising models behind print are far from broken – and we can offer our readers value that benefits advertisers as well.
The primary problem lies with what Jakob Nielsen calls the “lean-forward/lean-back” theories. Web readers are “solution hunters”; they’re looking for a quick fix of information before moving on. We’ve built our web editorial around that idea, which has allowed us to quickly build our audience. Subsequently, we know our audience inside out, and have complete control over distribution.
This means that we offer our advertisers a clearly defined audience of forward thinking innovators and entrepreneurs. This audience includes policy makers, foreigners interested in London’s tech scene, and city workers keen to invest in UK startups with their bonuses. It’s an audience that needs objective news on one of the world’s key startup markets from an independent publisher.
When a reader from this hyper-targeted demographic opens a magazine, they commit a certain amount to leaning back, and thus consume content in a different way. The result is that prior to our launch today, we have made a profit off of this new quarterly journal – an unheard of result in publishing.
Tech journalism’s broken. It focuses on the now, the latest and the breaking. Whilst drowning in a sea of tweets and social media, we’ve forgotten to take a moment and ask what’s really happening around us. A print magazine offers you the opportunity to sit back, take a moment and contextualise the changes around us. Its value isn’t lost – it just needs to be done right.