The mainstream media may be registering the revolution, but is it too late? A recent New York Times story reveals in all its glory how younger readers parse news through social media. One focus group participant is quoted saying, “If the news is that important, it will find me.” Through email, RSS, general surfing, social sites, and overall online immersion, younger readers feel as if the news is part of the air they breathe, and that primary source material is always just a click away. So, not only will they know about Barack Obama’s speech on race, they will watch it on YouTube. If newspapers keep just sending out the news, they remain vulnerable. Very vulnerable.

Are magazines falling into their own trap? A great post I came across by Michael Turro sums up the situation wonderfully. For STM journal publishers, losing the convergence of community and user-generated content is even more acutely painful. In print, journals were keystones in both user-generated content and community (newspapers are “about” a community, not “of” a community).

But as Turro puts it, there is still hope:

There is still time for magazines to make a play, a serious play, in the social space. Certainly old attitudes and egos will need to be checked and the editorial stance has to move away from proclamation and toward conversation

Unfortunately, the way they are generated now, online journals (magazines) are anachronistic options, and increasingly anemic ones. They pale by comparison to some of the engaging information sites new media players are offering, and struggle against the new community grabs they are making.

Is the new attitude (“If a study is that important, it will find me”) going to drive primary publishers out? Or can they move effectively from proclamation toward conversation, and preserve their status as vital centers for user-generated content and community?

Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson is the CEO of RedLink and RedLink Network, a past-President of SSP, and the founder of the Scholarly Kitchen. He has worked as Publisher at AAAS/Science, CEO/Publisher of JBJS, Inc., a publishing executive at the Massachusetts Medical Society, Publishing Director of the New England Journal of Medicine, and Director of Medical Journals at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Opinions on social media or blogs are his own.