2013: When Editors Strike Back

As any good editor knows, content is the center of engagement and the key driver of revenue in publishing. For anyone in an editorial role, it has been difficult to watch this critical function attempt to be replaced by bots, algorithms, engines, and even the common contributor in the name of progress.

I remember sitting in a meeting at Google with a number of publishers in 2008. Google teams, and even Eric Schmidt himself, were sharing product roadmaps relating to innovations surrounding the future of content and publishing. One well-respected publisher asked, “How will we be able to pay editors, publishers, and designers the salaries they deserve if we drop prices or give content away for free?” Google responded, “Who needs to pay people to develop content when the everyday blog can make it better?”

There was silence in the room. And then an odd air of understanding that the art of the magazine as we had known it may be on its last leg when it comes to digital.

Today, five years later, I am seeing some rays of hope shine through. Technical innovation has blossomed and continues to grow at a rapid pace, but has started to reach the next leg of its lifestyle: enablement.

The gimmicky aspect and newness of iPads, smartphones, and even 3D TVs has peaked. Publishers, for the most part, have risen to the challenge to build the largest presence they can through utility apps, standalone magazine apps, HTML5 tests, and content integration into aggregator apps. And now, these apps, devices, and other items have become “expected” by customers.

Enter: the enablement phase. With this phase of digital content, editors get a chance to strike back. Now that customers have all gathered the devices they enjoy, or at least, a basic understanding of devices, they need more from us. Customers now need to find reasons to engage with their devices.

This is the perfect chance for the editor to take control. Content will drive the success of the devices that fill our “appmosphere.” The successful editor will need to create high-quality curated content. This is a fantastic opportunity for any editor in publishing to take back control of the experience and the future.

Last week at CES I was fortunate enough to meet with a few publishers who are preparing to do just that. There are some very encouraging plans regarding innovation, growth, and new ways of distributing content in a manner that drives significant increases in revenue.

So…what do you think? Is there a chance?

Editors Choice image on home page via Shutterstock.

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