When Digg, Techcrunch, Gigaom, or others talk about me or Fon, visits to my web site or Fon’s go through the roof. But yesterday the New York Times had me on the cover of the business Sunday Times with a huge pictureand long article and the increased visit effect to our websites was negligible. Same was true when Forbeswrote a great article about myself and Fon. Even though the Sunday New York Times has a circulation of 2.3 million papers and is arguably the best newspaper in the world, the cover article only added 200 additional uniques to this website. Instead when I heard from Michael Dell that he used Ubuntu, I blogged it, my post was picked up by Digg and I got over 50,000 additional unique visitors to my blog!

But while there is a big disconnect between old media and new media and old media does not send visitors to new media, the impact of an old media paper article far exceeds that of an Internet article. Michael Arringtonmay send you a lot of visitors but it is rare that I will go somewhere and people will remember what Techcrunch wrote a year ago. With paper this is not the case. People will cite the Erika Brown’s Forbes article a year later. And yesterday I was getting many emails from long time friends and even a former university professor about the New York Times article and this does not happen to me when blogs who send tons of visitors write about me or Fon.

There really is something about old media that we retain for a long time which is not true of new media and this may explain why people like Tom Friedmanare still not blogging. As a consequence an old media reputation, good or bad, seems to be deeper and longer lasting than the flavor of the month reputation that the Internet builds. When John Markoffwrites paper in hand people listen. They know that Markoff has fact checkers, has done his research and is paid to spend a lot of time on a story. Same was true of Erika Brown whose fact checkers kept calling me for weeks before the Forbes story came out. So while I try to write objectively from my blog and so do other bloggers I don’t think anyone of us has the time or resources yet of a Forbes or a New York Times. Old Media still has more money to pay journalists than new media and it shows. Nor does new media have the undivided attention that readers of magazines or newspapers get. Paper, whether we like it or not, still looks better than screens. So even though I have been an advocate of new media for 12 years and I have never invested in any news that came out in paper, I still think that paper is more credible than pixels.

An old media reputation is still more valuable and lasting than a new media reputation.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

No Comments

Julio Alonso on May 26, 2008  · 

Agreed. Now, will this still be the same when our kids think about media? Is this a permanent effect or will it go away in 10-20 years?

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Martin Waxman on May 26, 2008  · 

Interesting POV. I read the NY Times article and was taken by your offering. It’s one of the more original business concepts I’ve heard about in a while.

Like many Canadians, I subscribe to the Times Sunday edition not for the news, but to discover the stories/trends behind the news; and because I enjoy the high quality writing and the depth.

However, as a PR professional, I am intrigued by the fact that online mentions bring you more website traffic than traditional MSM. Certainly journalists are looking to the blogosphere for news/ideas. But there’s much truth in your assertion that print (or TV) coverage is remembered for a longer period of time. Perhaps that’s because of the more ethereal nature of the blogosphere – posted today, gone tomorrow. With MSM, I think we’re conditioned to consider what’s being said, reflect more. Perhaps that’s why it stays with us.

That said, I’m here because of the Times.

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cvander on May 26, 2008  · 

You’re right about this. But also, remember that when comparing new vs old media, the mainstream have a concept that getting published online is easy, is simple, you can do it yourself. While being published in one of the big boys of the old media means that you did something great, you were chosen and that’s why they admire the mention.

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Perell on May 27, 2008  · 


To much interesting things happening on the web at the same time, dude!

I use to speedread what I read on screen. Thus I miss a lot of words and I forget quickly.

However, I take more time to read newspapers (having some cup of coffee nearby).
I feel more comfortable reading biglettered documents in a table (horizontal plane), rather than on screen (I may not be digitally confident enough, despite I’m 34 years old). I often print some e-text in order to increase the retention of important information while reading.

Newspapers are truster than e-media because we handle the information in beetween our fingers touching the pages. We are able to keep them some where away from electricity.


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Antoin O Lachtnain on May 27, 2008  · 

The NYT is mainstream. Techcrunch is not mainstream. BoingBoing is not mainstream. Digg is not mainstream. These are part of the ‘long tail’. The criteria for selecting content for mainstream publication is completely different from ‘long tail’ media. It’s a completely different business. Blogs are like fireside chat compared to the mainstream.

As it happens, long-tail media are currently all online and mainstream media are all partially or wholly on TV or in print. Eventually there will be more of a crossover, but we’re not there yet.

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Jen Allerson on May 27, 2008  · 

I went to hear Jeffrey Cole, of the Center for the digital Future in Los Angeles, speak during the Stockholm Media Week forum on May 8th. He had fascinating things to say about old and new media.

I could not find a link to his talk in Stockholm in English, but I would highly recommend reading his opinions elsewhere.

Here are a few of my notes from his session:

-1998 was the first year that kids watched less TV since the invention of television (they are now playing video games and doing other computer related activiteis)

-Traditional newspapers have 20 to 30 years left. Old readers are not being replaced with new readers after they die.

-People are starting to give up on blogging more quickly

-Peer communities scrutinize advertising more

-Video game releases (like Grand Theft Auto 4) are earning for more money in their first week than movies are

-Half of the earth’s population now has a mobile phone

-TVs are moving to the mobile phone, getting smaller, moving into pockets, but TVs at home are getting larger

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