Alternet Editor Says, “No magazine of opinion makes money on its own.”

  • Alternet Editor Says, “No magazine of opinion makes money on its own.”
    The Online Journalism Review has a nice article on Alternet, a syndication service for alternative weeklies and other independent publications. Alternet’s website has experienced a spike in traffic since the coronation of King George W.. It’s editor, Don Hazen, says that there’s been a similar spike in interest for a variety of left-leaning and alternative publications.

    The most interesting thing Hazen has to say is that he thinks it’s difficult to make a profit with a commentary-heavy content-based website. Instead, he thinks such sites need “a hybrid model of revenue and subsidies,” like so many magazines, from the Nation to the New Republic have. Alternet also relies on such a model, as part of the non-profit Independent Media Institute.

    Based on my own observations and experiences I would have to agree with Mr. Hazen on this issue. Mostly due to the skewed economics of publishing and the Internet (where revenue models are near-impossible to find outside of porn), it’s tough to break even by simply selling your service/product to people. Actually, this is true for nearly all of periodical publishing–that $1.00 cover price does not come close to paying the real cost of the daily edition of the New York Times. Since big advertisers are both skittishly conservative and looking for the largest big-dollar demographic they can find, they’re not typically too interested in being associated with pubs with challenging content. That gap in funding must be made up for somehow, which is why it you need to turn to membership models, grants, and similar things.

    And in no way do I think this is a bad thing–first, it helps a publication retain independence, and secondly, people tend to be willing to support things they find useful and valuable, even beyond a purchase price of a few bucks. So, having primarily to satisfy your audience–rather than advertsiers–can be a huge incentive to stay on mission.

  • Posted





    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *