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The Ups and Downs of Publishing's Transition to Digital

Recently Fairfax Media announced the November 2013 closure of the print version of long established and respected Australian magazine - Business Review Weekly.

At its peak, BRW was arguably the premier business media voice in our market under the guidance of high-profiled founder Robert Gottliebson and others such as David Koch and Ross Greenwood. 

For marketers wanting to reach a strong AB business audience it was always on the schedule - particularly for 'Flagship' issues such as the still market leading Rich List.

Like many printed products the BRW brand will still appear - but in digital format only.

Here we take a look at how this - and other well known media brands are managing the transition to digital platforms....

  • After 32 Years, BRW Goes Out of Print (BRW - Nov 25)- the story of the rise and fall of BRW - which for much of its 32-year history, had the highest per capita circulation in the world for a business magazine.
  • BRW's Rich List of Lessons - Founding Editor of BRW - Robert Gottliebson - reflects on BRW's magazine closure - 'The story of BRW has lessons for all publishers and those who run large organisations. In 1981 Fairfax dominated business publishing but suddenly faced the threat of Kerry Packer entering the business space through a fortnightly magazine called Australian Business.'


  • How to Make Money with Newspapers (The Australian) - 'McPhersons Media Group - from regional Victoria - has just made a record profit. It owns 12 newspapers, earns $40 million in revenue, pays healthy dividends, has more Facebook users than readers - oh, and, you guessed it, it’s a family business.'
  • The Quartz Way - Monday Note features Quartz, a web-only business publication, just turned one year old. On both editorial and business dimensions, Quartz features all components of a modern media venture. Is this a formula for the long run? In the first of two articles, they take a closer look at Quartz's editorial product - and then follow up with article 2 on Quartz's business model
  • 7 Compelling Case Studies (e-Media Vitals) - Most of us don’t have Publishers Transition from Print to Digitalanything close to the resources that media giants such as Hearst, Conde Nast, or the New York Times can bring to their digital businesses. For publishers operating on decidedly smaller budgets, innovation becomes even more critical for building sustainable digital revenues. In 2012, we wrote about a variety of strategies publishers are implementing to attract and retain audiences, better serve advertisers, and grow their businesses. Here are seven case studies that stood out.
  • Sponsored posts help Forbes drive digital revenue past print (AdAge) - Forbes said 20% of its ad revenue this year will come from buys that include BrandVoice sponsored posts. Determining the precise impact of BrandVoice remains tricky because Forbes often sells it as part of larger packages. But the impact of the sponsored posts is clearly growing, and one reason that digital ad revenue at the company is surpassing print ad revenue this year for the first time, with 53% coming from the digital side, Forbes said.
  • State of the News Media 2013 (Pew Research) - an annual comprehensive report from the The American Centre for Journalism takes an in-depth look at all aspects of the changing nature of publishing.
  •  Confessions of a Newspaper Executive - a recently departed newspaper ad executive talks about the inefficiencies of newspaper ad operations and why a top-down culture often gets in the way of matching actions with words. 
  • "Embracing and succeeding today for newspapers represents a seismic change or shift in how they do everything. This sort of change is also expensive: accounting systems, content-management systems for editorial, multiple forms of paid research and ad tech for sales and marketing"
  • A Vision for the Future of Newspapers - 20 Years Ago (via Recovering Publishers Transition to PrintJournalist) - fascinating 1994 memo from a senior executive at the Washington Post as he considers publishing in an online future after a trip to Silcon Valley.

Resources to Follow:

  • e-Media Vitals - Life Beyond Print - regular articles and resources for publishers
  • Nieman Journalism Lab - The Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University: Trying to figure out the future of news.
  • Poytner - School for journalism & democracy
  • INMA - International News Media Association (INMA) is the leading provider of global best practices to grow revenue + audience of news media companies across platforms
  • Folio - News, trends and best practices for magazine & media professionals.


Further Resources

  • All About EMMA and Roy - quick facts, articles and opinion to bring you up to date on the introduction of new print and magazine measurement platform - EMMA


Other Pages of Interest