Source CEO: Pay Your Editors, Charge for Content
A report from the FOLIO: Summit.
CHICAGOâ€”â€śContent is not free.â€ť
That was Source Media CEO Jim Malkinâ€™s message during the opening keynote here at the FOLIO: Growth Summit Tuesday.
Malkin, who led a radical restructuring of Sourceâ€™s content-creation business in 2008, was talking not only about the growing debate over paid content online, but about the people that produce that content, tooâ€”specifically, editors.
â€śThey like to eat, they like to be fed,â€ť Malkin said. â€śWe have to pay them.â€ť
Paying them, he said, is the key to keeping editors motivated, even when theyâ€™re asked to manage across a company and outside their comfort zone. â€śIf you do your job, you get paid twice a month,â€ť he said.
The goal of the restructuring, Malkin said, was to increase the quality and efficiency of its content, and, eventually, allow Source to charge for it.
â€śReaders who wish to be informed rather than entertained will pay,â€ť Malkin said.
The restructuring was partly out of necessity. One of Sourceâ€™s businessesâ€”the brands covering the mortgage banking marketâ€”had $15 million in revenue in 2007. This year, Malkin expects it will do $5 million.
â€śThat is not a great business model,â€ť he said.
Source, Malkin said, is moving quickly to make its business largely subscription-based, rather than the ad-driven model that had served many publishers so well for so long. â€śI canâ€™t sit there and tell my board weâ€™re going to wait for advertising to come backâ€”who knows when it will?â€ť
On the state of the publishing industry, he added: â€śIf what we have isn't valuable and no one wants to pay for it, maybe we donâ€™t have a business.â€ť
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