Teaching Examples

A short guide to The Long Tail
September 18, 2006, 1:43 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Folio, the magazine about the magazine publishing industry, has a good interview with Chris Anderson, author of the best-selling book The Long Tail.

Anderson said the print version of a magazine is “not dead,” but:

… it’s not enough. The day when you could shovel your stuff onto the Web site and people would bookmark it and come back are pretty much gone. The fact is, you are one of dozens of content sources that people are consuming in an omnivorous media menu.

Increasingly, it’s not people coming to your Web site. It’s people seeing you mentioned elsewhere. It’s not people coming to your front page but coming directly to a story because someone linked to it. Maybe it’s not people coming for your content but for your community — contact and engagement with other readers.

How does this manifest?

The old model of media is all about freshness while yesterday’s news is fishwrap. The new model of media relevance is determined by the community. It matters less and less what’s on your front page. What matters is what’s struck a chord, and what strikes a chord sees people linking to stories. … The extraordinary interest in things we previously discounted, like archives, is the real lesson of the search and blog traffic era.

… more and more of our traffic is coming from search and third-party links and less and less is coming to the front page. It’s so-called micro-chunking of content. It’s less dependent on what I say the media menu of the day is and more about what the mob says the media menu of the day is. It’s not about my brand or my Web site, it’s about my stories.

How should publishers and editors address this market reality?

A lot of this is obvious stuff. You need to bring in the community, you need to open up content, you need to take down the walls. You need to recognize that word-of-mouth from the blogs is an increasingly powerful driver. Look at the importance of search to drive demand to the archives. I don’t think anybody out there is doing it perfectly …

It’s not like I can point to any company using this as their model. They’re using elements of this to a better or worse degree.

The Long Tailbook and blog.

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With all the discussion on Web 2.0 and aggregation, I think we often forget the importance of sharp editing online.

For my money, that’s why sites like Slate and Salon have been succesful. I’d have to disagree somewhat that it’s less important what’s on the “front page” these days. With newspapers offering so much content, it’s all the more important to carefully choose what will be on the front. Otherwise, much of the good stuff will stay lost on some other section of the site.

Those bloggers are still looking at news site fronts.

Comment by Danny Sanchez

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