Old Media Is the New Hotness for Chris Hughes and Larry Kramer
For the moment, printed publications are valuable because they’re an established way to make money, said Chris Hughes, publisher and editor in chief of the New Republic, and Larry Kramer, president and publisher of USA Today, speaking today at D: Dive Into Media.
“I think we still belive that print has some future,” said Kramer, whose paper has a staff of 200 to 300 reporters and a circulation of 1.6 million. “Can I tell you how long? No.”
Meanwhile, the leading criticism of Hughes, who co-founded Facebook with his Harvard classmates and left in 2007, is that he bought the New Republic as a sort of feel-good personal project.
Hughes, whose publication has a circulation of 44,000, admitted that he’s not expecting to get rich (again). “I think we can be profitable. Certainly not this year, and not next year. But I think there’s a route to it.”
But he added, “We have a double-bottom-line business. I’m not here to make a lot of money for myself. But I also have to prove to ourselves and to the world that we can find a model of journalism that is sustainable.”
Both men described ways they are modernizing old media to make sure it provides value.
Kramer said he believes news is best when it’s timely and delivered to users wherever they are, and then later made relevant with things like unique angles and graphics.
For instance, the announcement that the pope was resigning broke at 7 am yesterday, and drove strong Web traffic to USA Today for about three hours, but then dropped off. So, by the time the paper came out the next morning, it led with the story, but took a a “second-day lede” rather than treating the story as straight news.
“Handing them a newspaper the following day that acts as if this is the first time you’re hearing it isn’t relevant,” Kramer said.
Meanwhile, Hughes described an approach to long-form journalism that treats stories as the beginning of a conversation, which is then later “curated” through conversation and further marginalia that “give it the dimension it deserves.”
He said that the New Republic receives more than a quarter of its traffic from social media. But the Facebook co-founder was more positive on Twitter as a driver of traffic, because it’s hard to stand out on Facebook. “We spend probably more time thinking about Twitter and the environment where people are passing around links than we do Facebook,” Hughes said.