Variety 2.0: Save the Good Stuff For Print

in the age of online, the trade is definitely betting on print

Variety appears to have settled on a strategy to change its declining fortunes, and all indications have been that in the age of online the trade is betting on print.

New evidence of this from Variety.com editor Chris Krewson's blog (which, oddly enough, is not based at Variety.com), in which he touts two different versions of stories running on the trade's website, which is now behind a nearly-complete paywall, versus what appears print.

You can read it for yourself, but I have two observations about this, which like TIm Gray's last memo leaves me with a sad feeling: 

1. Journalism 101 = Show, don't tell. If the stories were so compelling, and so differentiated, Chris wouldn't need to tout them in such detail.

2. In this day and age, holding back the good stuff from the online space is a very risky strategy. People want their news where they want it, when they want it, and they want the best stuff that is available. So, with sites like TheWrap hitting the news online, then writing their analytical, second-cycle stories and putting that online – how is a print product that appears 12 hours later going to compete? 

This doesn't feel like the solution in the digital age. But have a read, judge for yourself, the memo signed by Krewson and editor Leo Wolinsky: 

From Krewson's blog: 

This morning, Daily Variety Editor Leo Wolinsky and I sent this memo around to the staff. I thought friends and colleagues might want to see what we’ve been up to out here.

We wanted to point out once again the great progress we’re making in giving our audience a real reason to read print even after readers have learned about all the breaking news from our Website.

On today’s front page, every story was significantly different from the one readers saw yesterday on Variety.com.

Our Web story early Tuesday listing the nominees for the Tony Awards was followed in print by a very different Tony story – one that looked at how the star-studded list would likely benefit the televised event.

Our initial Web story on News Corp.’s quarterly results explained that Avatar had helped the company achieve great results. The print version instead focused on how all this additional money was likely to put Rupert Murdoch into the deal-making game once again.

The Jimmy Fallon story posted to the Web confirmed that the comic would be hosting the Emmys, as we had predicted. The print story, however, used the announcement to explain how Fallon was important to the TV Academy this year with negotiations looming for a new broadcast contract.

The print version of X-men, a story we broke first on the Web, added a new lead and more details. There are other examples inside the paper as well. Stu Levine picked up a tip on Fox’s likely bid for the Olympics during a call on another subject and wrote it into a true exclusive – a story based entirely on his own reporting.

Although many papers are beginning to ignore print as they make their transition to the digital world, the work we’re doing here shows you can do both — which is not only great journalism but a big help in supporting the financial model that keeps the newsroom running. Many thanks for your continued efforts.

Leo and Chris