Rolling Stone's 'Print First' Mindset Shows How They Lost The Community
from the they've-gone-elsewhere dept
To some extent, part of this discussion is recognizing whether a publication is taking a digital-first strategy or a paper-first strategy. We've seen some publications really working hard to embrace a digital mindset, but others still appear to think that their entire purpose is to sell more paper copies, even if that hurts the digital community. A great example of this appears to be Rolling Stone magazine, which has the "big story" of the week, in doing a profile on General Stanley McChrystal, which resulted in him getting fired.
Whatever your opinion is of the story itself, an interesting sidenote is how Rolling Stone promoted the story. It apparently hoped this story would sell a lot more copies of the magazine, so it held off posting the digital copy, but instead, sent it around to other publications, allowing all those other publications to get the "scoop" and the traffic:
Rolling Stone didn't even bother putting it online before they rolled it out [to other publications]. In fact, despite the fact that everyone else's website led the profile, Rolling Stone's site led with Lady Gaga's (admittedly impressive) machine gun jumblies all day and didn't even put the story online until 11:00 ET.On top of that, when Rolling Stone finally got around to putting up the story, it didn't actually get much community action. Nieman Labs notes that a day later, the story that kicked off this whole thing only had 16 comments. Stories on other sites had thousands of comments. Partly this was because RS was late. But, as Nieman points out, RS makes it incredibly difficult to comment on the site. Numbers of comments are certainly not the only factor in judging the popularity of a story (and, in our experience comment numbers and traffic numbers do not correlate well), but you would think that the biggest story of the week, from the publication that supposedly "broke" the story, could get a few more comments.
Basically, in an attempt to push people to the paper edition, it looks like Rolling Stone missed out on a huge internet opportunity.
On a separate note, since we were just talking about the Associated Press vigorously defending the whole "hot news" doctrine, it is worth noting that the AP was one of the first publications to run a story about the whole McChrystal situation -- well before Rolling Stone put the article online. Under the AP's interpretation of hot news, it certainly sounds like it it "freeloaded" off of Rolling Stone, making it more difficult for Rolling Stone to make money... doesn't it?