Looking back in History, Gutenberg’s press marked a unique point in the development of systems of distribution of information. Publishing books and newspapers became more affordable and could be done at an unprecedented mass scale.
Making a parallel with the technologies available nowadays, the internet, the protagonist of the network society, revolutionized information distribution again, this time by breaking geographical and economic boundaries
Even though paper publishing industry has not ceased to exist, it has been deeply affected by the growing market of tech devices. This new trade forced publishers to shift their focus and investment in production from printing to online material. Kindles and e-books are easy examples to think of. Magazine publishers are no different. They needed to adapt to the new demands of readers.
A great part of the revenue that once came from selling magazines in newsstands now comes from subscriptions. Online subscriptions offer more value to the audience. For a set price, they usually have access to all the material online – a lot cheaper if they were to buy every issue separately. Good examples of it are The Economist and Foreign Affairs magazines, which offer very attractive online subscriptions when compared to the price of their printed versions.
The Economist is a very successful publication that knew how to take advantage of the changes imposed by the internet. This article is an informative reading regarding the popularity of online magazines. In 2014, The Economist revealed that their content was reaching over 5 million readers a week, combining their print and online editions. Such numbers wouldn’t have been possible to be attained in a yestertime.
The Internet also gave space for entrepreneurship in magazines to grow, allowing independent publishers to also succeed. A case in point is the British “The World Weekly”, an exclusively online publication. This type of business is only possible due to lower costs of production and easy and fast distribution.
Online material also offers the benefit of being more engaging. By setting comment sections, the audience is more bound to read not only the pieces but also other people’s comments, and by replying, a conversation is started. Comments can be helpful for producers themselves since they’ve got a chance to get free feedback and see what topics are more popular.
If we see through journalists’ eyes, the internet also brought benefits to freelance journalists. Being a contributor is easy and can be done independently of location. We now have the opportunity of sharing our work with a range of publications and cultures.
p.s.: This reading from the Guardian is also interesting and very relevant to the discussion.