Sale of the Financial Times, Atlantic Media’s Membership Drive, the Problem With Advertisers, Rules at Gawker and Reddit, TFP’s July Book Picks: Leaders and Visionaries, TFP’s Infographic Pick of the Week, InDesign CC Tip: Publish Online, Part 1

Welcome to Technology for Publishing’s roundup of news and tips for media industry pros! This week, we’re sharing stories about why Pearson sold the digitally successful Financial Times, the membership strategy behind Atlantic Media’s shutdown of the National Journal, how advertising is becoming a threat to media, standards recently imposed at Gawker and Reddit, and more.

FT building photo

  • In a move highlighting “an inflection point in global journalism,” British news and education company Pearson announced it sold the Financial Times to Nikkei, a Japanese financial newspaper company, for $1.3 billion. The deal made sense, reported Nieman Lab and others, given Pearson’s increasing focus on the education market. In a blog post, the company’s CEO said Nikkei is in a better position to meet the challenges—and take advantage of the opportunities—of “disruptive change in new technology.” FT, often rated one of the best newspapers in the world, will assume its new ownership in good shape: Not only has its combined print and digital circulation jumped more than 30% in the past five years, with digital subscribers accounting for 70% of its total paid audience, but nearly half of the paper’s traffic comes from mobile.
  • Meanwhile, Atlantic Media told Capital New York that its decision to shutter the 46-year-old National Journal was about “membership” and “loyalty strategy” rather than just an effort to cut print costs, as some reports focused on when the announcement was made. The idea, said CEO Tim Hartman, is to drive more investment toward media products that better serve the audience, including mobile, digital, and membership, offering not only content and information services but a “different relationship” with the publisher where paying customers get “a mix of data, synthesis, and close service.” With membership making up as much as 59% of total revenue, the National Journal falls into the category of crossover along with The New York Times and the Financial Times, meaning its business model now depends more on readers and less on advertisers, the report explained.
  • That’s the place you want to be, according to a Fortune post arguing that advertising, once key to publishers’ livelihood, is fast becoming a problem rather than a solution in today’s Internet economy. Why? For one, publishers no longer enjoy a monopoly on content delivery—advertisers now have a far broader range of platforms to choose from, including social media and messaging apps, as well as the ability to go direct to readers with their own content, the article said. Another threat to publishers is programmatic buying, which created not only a supply glut by allowing almost unlimited possibilities for advertisers, but also a demand for ad blocking technology designed to stem the deluge of ads killing consumers’ reading pleasure. Throw on top of that moves by Facebook and other social media sites to gain control of content distribution and you have the “perfect storm,” the report concluded, noting that it’s anyone’s guess who’ll be able to weather it.
  • For now, though, advertisers still matter, as noted in a Times analysis on recent controversial moves by Gawker and Reddit to impose content rules and standards that—although far from the conservative kind traditional media outlets are bound to—signal a shift from “Wild West” startup to a more mature business model. It pointed out, however, that enforcing restrictions is easier said than done in an Internet culture that embraces complete freedom of expression. “The boundary between viral and offensive can be hard to judge,” the report said, with the goals of driving traffic and growing audiences with “edgy content” often at odds with those of advertisers and the sensibilities of readers. As such, the line remains fuzzy, meaning debate on editorial decisions is likely to continue.
  • On the Technology for Publishing blog: If you’ve got some downtime this summer, kick back with a selection from our July Book Pick List highlighting the biographies of leaders and visionaries like Washington Post great Katharine Graham, Google’s Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg, and Amazon chief Jeff Bezos, among other industry pioneers.
  • The way we consume media is evolving as storytelling becomes increasingly visual. How should you respond as a content provider? Check out TFP’s Infographic Pick of the Week for best practices.
  • This week’s InDesign CC Tip from TFP’s Monica Murphy explains Publish Online, a game-changing feature that allows you to publish your InDesign documents online for others to view on multiple platforms.

Image: Nieman Lab

Check out our blog for highlights of interesting and noteworthy stories from the publishing world every Friday, and sign up for TFP’s This Week in Publishing newsletter. Think we missed something great? Let us know! Leave a comment below or drop us a note.


Posted by: Monica Sambataro

Monica Sambataro is a contributing editor and copyeditor for Technology for Publishing. Her publishing background includes work for leading technology- and business-related magazines and websites.