Today is executive editor John Byrne’s last day at BusinessWeek. Tomorrow Bloomberg officially takes over following its acquisition of the magazine in October, and Byrne – editor-in-chief of BusinessWeek.com and one prolific tweeter – is leaving to form a digital media company.
Well, it appears Byrne is already forming an outline of those details.
According to this site – which is owned Byrne – his new company is called C-Change Media (as in the “sea change” occurring across the industry) and the success of Huffington Post, Politico, Drudge, GigaOm, TechCrunch et al inspired him to make the leap. (Also, one can assume, the new Bloomberg regime.)
Another interesting point: Byrne thinks “print advertising will never come back.”
“There are just too many options for advertisers today and too much pressure on rates,” he writes. “Sadly, success in print will be measured in single-digit declines, forever.” But online rates will never overtake print’s heyday and, on the topic of paid content, “users will not pay for content, unless they’re convinced it has immediate and tangible value. Very little journalism meets that standard today. Do we really need 57 versions of a story on Bernie Madoff pleading guilty?”
Here are Byrne’s self-generated FAQs:
About My New Company
There are all kinds of questions I’m getting about my new company from friends and colleagues. So I thought it might be helpful to lay out my answers for everyone to see.
For the past five years, we’ve been witnessing nothing less than a sea change in the media business. The media monopolists are dying. More nimble, low-cost models on the web are quickly replacing them. Readers are increasingly abandoning print and moving to digital—on the little screen of your mobile device, the bigger screen on your laptop, and the biggest screen in your home. There’s nothing in the short-term future that will slow this trend down. If anything, analog media brands have only begun to feel the pain. What’s next will be truly devastating and those changes spell unprecedented opportunity for new media entrepreneurs.
Why are you starting your own company?
I passionately believe that the future of media is digital and that newcomers have tremendous advantages over incumbents. Most of traditional media remains in a complete meltdown, dragged down by high costs, old ways of thinking, and legacy work processes. As tough as the past three years have been for traditional media, the next three are going to be nothing less than brutal: more closures, greater losses, increasing layoffs of highly talented journalists and editors.
That’s also why we’re going to see a media boom in the next three years, the launch of tens of thousands of new media entrepreneurs on the Internet. Many of them will fail, but many more will flourish and replace the brands our fathers and grandfathers grew up with. The success of Huffington Post, Politico, Drudge, GigaOm, TechCrunch, and other media enterprises on the web have shown us a path forward. But it’s still very early days and the new followers are going to have lots of advantages over the first movers. I’m thrilled and excited to be part of this revolution.
What makes you so sure you or anyone else can succeed at this game?
I have three fundamental beliefs that inform my thinking: 1) Print advertising will never come back. There are just too many options for advertisers today and too much pressure on rates. Sadly, success in print will be measured in single-digit declines, forever. 2) Online advertising will never offset those declines nor save print. There’s far too much competition online and far too much available inventory; and 3) Users will not pay for content, unless they’re convinced it has immediate and tangible value. Very little journalism meets that standard today. Do we really need 57 versions of a story on Bernie Madoff pleading guilty?
If you agree with these absolutes, they can liberate your thinking about what’s going to happen next in media. Why? Because they tell you that nothing less than radical transformation is needed to survive and to thrive in the analog space. And there’s precious little revolutionary thinking among the traditionalists. That’s why newcomers have great advantage at this time of transition. The great management guru Peter Drucker said it best: "The problem in our lives is not the absence of knowing what to do, but the absence of doing it.” I’m going to do it.
Do you think print is dead?
Hardly. TV didn’t kill radio. Cable didn’t kill the networks. The VHS tape and the DVD didn’t close down all the movie theaters. Newspapers and magazines will survive but there will be fewer of them and they will not be able to rack up the profits they had in the past. I believe that a new generation of print will emerge from digital. Some online platforms will become so successful and so dominating that print products will likely result from them.
Can you be more specific about what C-Change will do?
Not yet. It’s too early to tell everyone what our first products will be, but I do envision more than a single platform. It will be a network of niche products for the business audience with an emphasis on mobile applications. I think there are three core ingredients and all of them start with C which is why my company is called C-Change: content in the form of high quality, original journalism and opinion; curation of new content being published elsewhere in the world; and community based on highly engaged users.