Ina Fried

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Martha Stewart on Her Changing Media Empire

Martha Stewart said her company is transitioning to a digital media company just as fast as it can.

“We are relentless in serving our customers where they need us, where they want us,” Stewart said, appearing alongside Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia CEO Lisa Gersh at the D: Dive Into Media conference.

Stewart noted that Martha Stewart Living was an early mover into the apps world, and now both it and Everyday Food are digital, with Martha Stewart Weddings and Whole Living adding digital editions this spring.

“I’m very proud of our efforts in that arena,” Stewart said.

Her company, though older than Facebook and Twitter, is still fairly young at 20 years.

“We’re not old-fashioned,” Stewart said. She rejected the idea put forward by Bob Pittman earlier in the day that consumer habits change slowly, noting how quickly the iPad took off.

Stewart, a longtime D: All Things Digital attendee, was an early adopter of computers, getting her first IBM in 1982.

On the TV side, the company has a deal with Hallmark that ends at the end of the year and is evaluating what to do next, whether it is cable or broadcast.

“We’re looking at a number of different formats,” Stewart said.

In addition to traditional formats, Stewart said technologies like bar codes and tablets and phones create even deeper needs for the kinds of how-to content her company produces.

Some things have gone away, such as its “Martha By Mail” catalog business, though the company now has a new online store.

11:34 am: Gersh said that the company is trying to find new ways to make its monthly food magazine more relevant.

“We know our reader is making dinner every night and they want to hear from us,” Gersh said.

The magazine has a daily email newsletter that will be upgraded with video so subscribers can see someone making the recipe.

11:37 am: On the future of her doing a daily TV show:

It’s been a wonderful vehicle for a lot of things, Stewart said. There are a lot of products we have focused on in the show.

“Would you want to sit in make-up and hair for another 10 years?” Stewart said.

Walt: Me? No.

Stewart talked about a lot of other things she is doing, including her new relationship with J.C. Penney and its CEO, former Apple Store head Ron Johnson.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald