HOME
          
LATEST STORY
A conversation with David Rose, little magazine veteran and publisher of Lapham’s Quarterly
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
June 28, 2009, 4:53 p.m.

Yet another “What if you go online-only?” scenario

This question keeps getting asked in various ways: “What if you just stopped printing the newspaper and went online-only? How many people would you need, what would your costs be, and could you earn enough revenue to make a profit?”

It’s not necessarily the right question, because there’s still life left in print. An online-print hybrid, with one or two days a week of printed distribution tied to a strong digital publishing operation, is probably a much better solution than online-only.

In any case, Peter Kafka of All Things Digital is the latest to noodle the online-only version and has posted a spreadsheet supplied by Mark Josephson, CEO of Outside.in, which offers a news platform, Outside.in for Publishers, that can augment a local news site (such as that of a newspaper or TV station) with a stream of content links to local blogs and other sources.

In Josephson’s wildly optimistic model, the news operation gets 40 million page views per month, which is then augmented by 93 million page views from the Outside.in adjunct, and ultimately this sugars down to a tidy annual profit of $2.8 million with 20 employees who earn $70,000 apiece.

If it were that easy, it would be happening all over. The problem begins with the combined page views of 130 million per month, which is more than nearly all U.S. newspaper sites get, as Topix CEO Chris Tolles pointed out in response to the Kafka post. As well, it seems unrealistic for the Outside.in add-on to the local site to more than triple the combined monthly traffic.  Maybe for the typically underperforming broadcast site, that would be the case, but not with a newspaper partner. Tolles questions the assumed ad CPM, as well.

Josephson responded to Tolles by saying “but the model still works with fewer . [Pageview] reductions reduce the attendant expense and would require fewer people.” Well sure, but look, a typical 30,000-circulation daily paper is lucky to get a million pageviews a month, which, even if leveraged to 3 million with Outside.in, would scale the 20-person staffing model to exactly 0.5 people. Back to the drawing boards, I’d suggest.

POSTED     June 28, 2009, 4:53 p.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
A conversation with David Rose, little magazine veteran and publisher of Lapham’s Quarterly
“I hear the argument, Oh, these poor little magazines with their tiny readerships, if only people appreciated them more. It’s partly true. But the bigger side of that is, well, if only you knew how to read a budget. If only you actually knew anything about publishing.”
The New Inquiry: Not another New York literary magazine
For New Inquiry publisher Rachel Rosenfelt, building cultural significance was easy — building a sustainable business is the hard part.
iOS 8: How 5 news orgs have updated their apps for Apple’s new operating system
ABC, the AP, Breaking News, The Guardian, and The New York Times have all updated apps (or introduced new ones) to take advantage of new features on iOS 8.
What to read next
727
tweets
When it comes to chasing clicks, journalists say one thing but feel pressure to do another
Newsroom ethnographer Angèle Christin studied digital publications in France and the U.S. in order to compare how performance metrics influence culture.
714Wearables could make the “glance” a new subatomic unit of news
“The audience wants to go faster. This can’t be solved with responsive design; it demands an original approach, certainly at the start.”
582Ken Doctor: Guardian Space & Guardian Membership, playing the physical/digital continuum
The Guardian is making its biggest bet on memberships and events by renovating a 30,000 square foot space to host live activities in the heart of London.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
MediaBugs
PolitiFact
Reddit
Futurity
Houston Chronicle
The Times of London
The Orange County Register
Associated Press
Chicago Tribune
The Boston Globe
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
InvestigateWest