viernes, julio 17, 2009

El futuro de los medios según Slate

The Economist entrevistó a Jacob Weisberg, editor en jefe del Grupo Slate, para que en ocho preguntas explicara su visión de cómo serán los medios luego que esta segunda ola de internet (más intensa, profunda y decisiva) pase. Weisberg (autor de "La Tragedia de Bush") está en Slate desde que el sitio se fundó en 1996 y conoce en detalles cada una de las tragedias y glorias de los medios online. Slate -que pertenece al Washington Post- es un sitio rentable, que tiene una audiencia cautiva y que ha sabido diversificar su ingresos (publicidad, franquicias, pago por contenidos para celular, libros...), pero además, tiene una historia suficientemente larga en la web como para entender lo que sucede y sucederá. Weisberg cree que el único periodismo viable será el online; no se imagina cobrar por contenidos libre en la web, pero sí piensa que el uso en las plataformas móviles será vía pago y describe lo que para él son las claves para un buen periodismo online. "El tono de la buena escritura de la web es la del email", asegura Weisberg. Pero más que esto, en su entrevista deja más luces que sombras y eso siempre será estimulante.

DIA: In the great shake-up that is now occurring in the media do you think anything of value will be lost?

Mr Weisberg: There's a great deal at risk. The financial basis of the leading organisations that perform large-scale systemic news reporting has collapsed, and it's not clear what, if anything, will replace it. Certain categories of coverage—foreign, local, investigative—don't look economically viable on a for-profit basis at the moment. This is a political and societal problem as well as a business one because of the vital role that the kind of journalism traditionally performed by newspapers plays in democracy. We need to find new hybrid models to support it.

DIA: One reason you've given for Slate's profitability is that it's relatively cheap to produce. Newspapers are not cheap to produce and most are having trouble adapting to the new media landscape. Do you have any suggestions for them?

Mr Weisberg: Without getting into Slate's finances, I think web-only journalism is fundamentally viable because it doesn't have the huge fixed costs of print—ink, paper, binding, postage, etc. The marginal cost of distribution is zero. Most of what we spend at the Slate Group goes into creating original content. I think web advertising may well end up supporting big newsrooms if they can escape some of their legacy costs. The test I'd most like to see is of a well-financed, for-profit, web-only "newspaper" with no printed version. The problem is that the leading news organisations have a stake in web-only newspapers not working because they will accelerate the decline of the large, if faltering businesses that revolve around print.

DIA: Do you think online media will eventually be able to diversify its revenue stream away from advertising? In ten years, how will a website like Slate make money?

Mr Weisberg: We're very focused on that at the moment because advertising is a cyclical business, and even if the share that goes to online keeps growing, we'll be healthier with more than one source of funding. The Economist has become the envy of all serious media because of the way it has developed multiple revenue streams over a period of decades. Slate’s secondary sources include syndication and licensing, charging for Slate on mobile devices like the Kindle, book publishing, and affiliate fees for referrals to Amazon. I like the model of a free website, but paid mobile applications. Down the road, I hope we can add revenue from events and non-display advertising, such as lead generation, as well as by selling more targeted advertising at premium prices. Ten years is a century on the internet, but I'd be very happy to someday see traditional display advertising provide less than 50% of our revenue.

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