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Standard & Private Eye Web Strategies: Shome Mistake or Masterstroke? February 25, 2010

Posted by kewroad in Journalism, new media, print media.

Two different viewpoints on how the Web is changing mainstream print media from last week.

In the heat of the Mobile World Congress hype, the London Evening Standard announced a mobile app version of the iconic evening paper read by Londoners. A great idea when you see so many commuters looking at their mobiles every morning and evening. And the paper is the latest high-profile UK media brand to go down this route with the Guardian announcing 100,000 users of its own app this week too.

But, some wisps of doubt about newspaper mobile apps float through my mind. As a London tube commuter, I can’t help wonder how an app competes with the easy, instant  access to Metros and Standards that litter every tube train morning, noon and night. So what’s the point of a Standard  app if I want to see what;s in The Standard? Well it defends the brand as the demographics of a non-newspaper reading generation become overwhelming. As a connected rich media app  it could deliver a different experience to the paper version – stories that are updated after the paper print run. The Standard  used to come out in different timed editions throughout the afternoon. This has been cut back so Londoners could use the app to enjoy the Late Late Late Edition of the Standard. And a mobile phone is easier to read than a paper when you’re compressed into the tight corner of a tube train or the armpit of a fellow traveller.

Another bit of media industry news gives an insight into the power of the Web though in this case when a publication deliberately doesn’t have an online presence. UK satirical news magazine Private Eye has reported record increases in  sales with  more than 200,000 copies sold. What’s significant about this figure is that 99% of copies are bought at traditional news agents and newsstands.  There is minimal web presence – a deliberate strategy of the publishers to protect the magazine’s circulation and relationship with its readers. 

Arguably the demographic of Private Eye readers might be older and less ready to go online. Not sure this is the case (if anything older generation is more not less enthusiastic about the Web) but an anti-Web publishing strategy fits with the curmudgeonly attitude  of the magazine and its reputation for publishing embarrassing gossip and rumour about politicians and others.  In this example it looks like avoiding the Web preserves the conspiratorial bond the magazine has with its readers – for now at least.


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