How “Digital First” Is Reshaping Modern Media

The future of media might be finally arriving. Rupert Murdoch’s iPad-only pub, The Daily, is about to launch; Nick Denton wants to merge the best of TV, magazines and online in Gawker’s new template; and Journal Register CEO John Patton recently told attendees at an International Newsmedia Marketing Association event that even newspapers need to be digital first.

The Journal Register is in the same boat as many midsize papers: its online audience is already bigger than its print audience (similar to the UK’s Daily Mail), and though digital dollars lag, they’re nonetheless growing. Even TV advertisers are coming around: Fox is getting advertisers to accept Hulu ad inventory as “make-goods” to fulfill network audience reach promises.

Two new initiatives — one from a traditional player and one from an online startup — bear examining in this modern digital media context. Neither model looks perfect, but each has tactics other media companies should monitor:

  • News Corp.’s forthcoming The Daily is bold in its effort to charge for its digital content, thereby establishing value in the consumer’s mind. The walled garden that is Apple’s iPad ecosystem enables that, but it also limits the publication’s social and syndication opportunities.
  • Gawker Media’s redesign feels a lot like online magazine sites circa 2008. But the new approach accommodates multiple media formats, and its UI gracefully blends advertising/promotions and a feed.

With all this movement, one might ask which is the best model for which media company? I discuss that question in more depth and suggest some options in my weekly update at GigaOM Pro.

Image source: flickr user blakespot

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