Here’s a piece of news that’s all over the journalism blogosphere this afternoon, and which surprises me not at all:
Last week, though, the prominent political blogger Andrew Sullivan used his forum on TheAtlantic.com to tell readers to subscribe to the print edition of the magazine.
It worked. Within two days after last Monday’s post, Mr. Sullivan’s appeal pulled in 75 percent of the subscriptions that the Web site draws in a typical month, the magazine’s publisher, Jay Lauf, said.
Here’s the thing: social media is all about the first word there: social. Over the years, Sullivan has built up a rapport with his readers, one that stretches back to before he was blogging for the magazine. With every link of his they follow and find interesting, with every piece of analysis that they find compelling, they come to trust him. The relationship between blogger and reader grows stronger.
And so, when he recommends that they subscribe to the magazine, they do so, because they trust him. And as long as the print product repays that trust with a strong, compelling and unique proposition (which I think The Atlantic does, as a long-standing subscriber to the mag), then it is actually stronger as a paper product for having a social media operation.
I’ve long suspected that magazine brands are on their way to becoming metadata, a piece of information that is tagged onto the individual voices of its journalists, and which tells you a little something about them and what they write about, and which is, in turn, defined by the aggregate voices of its journalists. This is just one more piece of evidence to support that.