Hi. My name is Adam.

Produce good content and nothing else matters? Wrong.

Posted in blogging, economy, journalism, news by adambsullivan on March 29, 2010

Vanity Fair Editor Graydon Carter penned a guest op for MediaWeek today with reassurance that the magazine industry won’t disappear any time soon.

I really don’t care if the magazine industry disappears; I’m not inclined to work for a magazine and I don’t think most magazine content is particularly original. However, the logic Carter uses to arrive at his conclusion is troubling.

Carter points out that we’ve seen advances in communications technology in the past and that those changes haven’t killed preceding media, but changed them. Specifically, he looks at movie companies’ worry that TV would put them out of business:

After trying every gimmick in the book—3-D, Cinerama, even Smell-O-Vision—the studios discovered that the best way to save their core business was to keep making great films, a mission they have had sketchy success at.

That’s kinda true. What movie studios actually did was create movies that capitalized on the strengths of the medium: Movie theaters are well-suited for cool effects and epic shots, so movies that perform well feature cool effects and epic shots.

He goes on:

So if print journalism’s business model is changing, our only move as editors is to double down on delivering what our readers have always wanted from us: compelling stories and iconic photographs. And it won’t matter if they’re read on a laptop, a cell phone, or on paper.

This is a toxic attitude. If content-producers are to survive, they need to recognize what media best convey what information. Stories need to be told differently when they’re presented on different platforms because different technologies have different strengths and weaknesses.

Carter’s attitude (“produce good content and nothing else matters”) is why media is in trouble today. We need to be responsive to what our consumers demand and how they demand it.

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