While newspapers struggle to turn a profit from their websites, an encouraging finding from the Columbia Journalism Review has good news for media websites: 60% of larger magazine websites are profitable, MediaGuardian reports.
The survey and report Magazines and Their Web Sites, conducted by Victor Navasky, chairman of the CJR, and Evan Lerner, Editor of SeedMagazine.com, is the first effort of its kind to document and clarify what advantages and strategies 665 consumer magazines utilize on their websites.
The final report revealed that more than half of consumer magazines that receive over 1.5 million visitors per month are more profitable. Advertising, as expected, accounts for the largest revenue source for 83% of the magazines which answered the question.
These statistics hide an alarming fact: a third of the consumer magazines surveyed do not know if they make a profit and 110 measure profit separately. 209 out of 655 magazines did not answer the question. While it would seem like magazines are really turning a profit from their websites, one third of magazines are not sure if their websites are making money. Odds are larger magazine websites keep detailed data on profit, while smaller magazines are unaware of whether they are making money from their websites or not.
When it came to profit, the survey identified that those magazine websites with budgets controlled by web-specific editors rather than print editors were twice as likely to be making some money. Integration was also a big point, with 62% magazine staffs working on both web and print. Only 13% of the respondents said they kept separate teams.
However, some findings were more worrying. The survey found that 59% of online magazines go through either no or less vigorous copy-editing online than in print. 40% of magazines engage in less rigorous fact-checking when Web, rather than print, editors are in charge and 17% said they did little or no fact-checking if an independent Web editor made content decisions.
If corrections were made to the text, 54% the respondents explained they made no indication to readers when corrections are made and what the mistake was.
In a time when some online news sites are talking about paywalls -- News Corp newspapers and The New York Times, to name a few -- the researchers point to advertising with free content as the dominant business model and recommends that content is safeguarded against advertising that blurs the line between advertisement and news coverage. The CJR report would have perhaps had less than positive things to say about the $700,000 front page ad that ran on the cover of the LA Times this week.
Finally, the study recommends that magazine websites ffocus on multimedia - a very important element if they are to benefit from their arrival on new platforms like the tablets and e-readers.