Mentioning Cycle World yesterday got me thinking about the changing press environment. Not many years ago, the only place to find up to the minute news on any subject was television or newspapers and some topics never made the cut, motorcycles for instance. In that case, magazines were the next best or only source available. Today, blogs have pretty well taken over the late breaking news category and because bloggers are so widespread, we sometimes come across items no magazine will ever find.
The dilemma for those in print is to find their niche where they can do better and it’s beginning to appear that a focus on in depth articles is where the print media can shine as long as they are careful to research and fact check. Some of the magazines have well known writers and editors with industry connections allowing them to develop background on a story in a way bloggers might find difficult to match, for the time being anyway. Blogs are not so much competitors as a complementary news source. We do things differently.
The last issue (June) of Motorcyclist has a great example of magazine research with their special report on helmets. No blog is doing that type of work nor would we try. In the same vein, if you read late breaking news items in a motorcycle magazine you’ll find it’s old news to blog readers, sometimes to the point of being researched, cross checked, commented upon and corrected before the magazine ever hits the stands with the first rumor.
Magazines can publish blogs of their own but it seems to be an uncomfortable fit, they don’t want to give away the lead to their next big story and not charging for their content brings up a whole new business model. All magazines are facing this changing world, not just motorcycle mags, and how it all shakes out over the next few years will be interesting. Which magazines and blogs will still be around? What new technology (podcasting?) might create even more disruption? Stay tuned.