Schadenfreude broke out among some publishers today when Digital First Media killed an ambitious interactive publishing initiative and commenced layoffs to bolster the bottom lines of its newspapers in a reported plan to groom them for sale.
But no one should be happy that Digital First hit the wall. All this episode proves is that digital publishing – which remains the only imaginable way forward for newspapers and other legacy media – is even harder than we think.
Digital matters, because modern consumers – even thoseover the age of 55 – prefer to ingest news on a panoply of platforms including computers, smartphones, tablets and smart televisions. Even the American Press Institute, an arm of the Newspaper Association of America, recentlyconcurred that “the majority of Americans across generations now combine a mix of sources and technologies to get their news each week.”
The problem with digital news publishing, as discussed here, is that few, if any, organizations have developed models that come close to successfully emulating the scale and profitability achieved in the best of times by the traditional publishing and broadcasting media.