If you have been reading the news recently, you would have heard that Time magazine is laying off almost 300 magazine jobs. While this is not the end of Time Inc., it illustrates a shift in where readers are getting their content from. Although this shift didn’t begin yesterday, we haven’t even begun to see the major impact that this will have on the magazine industry.
Jeff Jarvis wrote a great post about how People magazine has always been incredibly inefficient. At one point, they expected writers to be producing one story a week. Compare that to the four or more stories that professional bloggers are writing on a daily basis.
Seth Godin realized how much work it is to be an elite blogger after sitting next to Cory Doctorow (the co-founder of Boingboing) at a conference. Seth describes what the experience was like:
I sat next to Cory at a conference today. It was like playing basketball next to Michael Jordan. Cory was looking at more than 30 screens a minute. He was bouncing from his mail to his calendar to a travel site and then back. His fingers were a blur as he processed inbound mail, visiting more than a dozen sites in the amount of time it took for my neck to cramp up. I’m very fast, but Cory is in a different league entirely.
While most writers don’t work at this pace, it is pretty obvious that the magazine industry is up against some pretty big challengers. In a world where mass media has a monopoly on the distribution of content, it is only expected that magazine and newspaper organizations are going to get bloated. Now, with the advent of blogs, mass media is going to need to straighten up. According to yesterday’s news that Web newspaper blog traffic tripled in December, it seems like the mass media isn’t completely ignorant of their competition. At the same time, there is no doubt that we are experiencing a major shift in the content distribution industry.