11/09/2007

"Provocative Paranoia" of 2.0 Pays Off In Spades

No doubt, blogging has become the standalone tool for up-and-coming journalists and media critics to jumpstart their careers by blazing a trail online. Because of this, the blogosphere is thriving as a vibrant and dynamic patchwork of media musings, observation, and news analysis.

The spectrum rolls wide: There's incisive commentary, vapid criticism, innovative writing, false reporting, nuanced gossiping, quirky news gathering, and more, much of which has the ability to disseminate at brushfire speed. It’s information democracy.

Still, many an old media partisan holds a staunch fealty to the tenants of a journalism that is no longer, discrediting the merits of online with off-putting, chip-on-the-shoulder contempt.

Which is why I was elated to read mediabistro's interview of John Micklethwait, Editor-in-Chief of The Economist. After some interesting insights, Micklethwait buoyantly announces that, as opposed to other newsweeklies which have been blindsided by the advent of online, The Economist has actually fared quite well with the rising tide of digital. Here’s a snippet of what he had to say:

“We remain provocatively paranoid about the Internet; you have to be thinking of ways in which you can deal with it. When I first came on I thought of the Internet as this sort of hurricane coming right towards us that had already hit newspapers and now would come to magazines, which were further ashore. But now it seems to be sort of glancing magazines, rather than hitting directly. It's not true for all magazines -- there are some that have been hit quite badly -- but the sort of thing that we're doing at the moment seems to be helping us rather than hurting us, because it's putting so much more information out there.”

In seven years, as the explosion of Web 2.0 has caused many a print publication to tumble, The Economist has managed to increase magazine sales by 107 percent—all thanks to an aggressive (if belated) courting of the digital space.

This sends a powerful message to old media advocates, one that many Internets have been toting with aplomb for a long time now: Embrace digital, or face an agonizing death... Yes?

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