Back in the early days of digital (sounds like so many years ago), a magazine deciding to publish a “digital edition” simply ported the content to their website and voila, they were digital publishers.
Those simple days are gone, and with it the concept of fixed deadlines and publishing calendars. Just as daily newspapers were eclipsed by the 24-hour news cycle of cable TV, publishers face some hard decisions about how much to publish and when. They also struggle with finding the right balance, taking readership and revenue into account from both print and digital models.
The volume of content published in this digital model can at times be staggering, as Patrick Smith of the Guardian Media Group points out.
“As digital publishing slowly but surely comes to eclipse traditional printed media, a big question arises: what happens to the publishing schedule when there are no fixed deadlines? The ability to publish a potentially endless amount of content raises profound questions about whether news brands are investing in right places,” Smith says.
He cites a recent example from one day in October when the Guardian published 273,652 words. According to a nifty little API created to compare the Guardian’s output with classic literature, “that is the equivalent of reading Ulysses” at 262,869 words.
This constant stream of new content has dramatic implications for newspaper editorial processes and staffing. According to Lionel Barber of the Financial Times, “In future, our print product will derive from the web offering – not vice versa…Production journalists will publish stories to meet peak viewing times on the web rather than old print deadlines.”
The same may hold true for printed magazines, where the job of the editorial staff is to sift through and curate the volumes of digital content to create a cohesive printed edition.
With that much content being created, that’s a massive task. Sort of like reading Ulysses in one sitting.