Here's why journalism doesn't and isn't "getting it."
January 18th, 2009 by analyticjournalism

One of the things most frustrating about the apparent inability of journalists and journalism educators to grasp — and utilize — the Digital Revolution showed up in my mailbox this week.

I received a note from Nicholas Lemann, Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University.  The note starts by pointing out that “We are living through a perilous, but fascinating, time in journalism.”  Then he — or more likely some copywriter — goes on to suggest that the “future of journalism” depends on my subscribing to and reading the Columbia Journalism Review.  Dean Lemann closes: “…I hope you will subscribe to CJR.  We won't disappoint you.”  The solicitation included a postage-paid envelope and this form:

Here's the thing: Nowhere in any of this communication is there a suggestion that I can — should, in fact — subscribe and pay for that subscription online!  Not only would it be easier for me, but at the very least the CJR wouldn't be billed by the post office for that return envelope.  Forget about the fee charged by some last century copy writer, the printer and the mailing and fulfillment houses. 

This is just one example of the poor list management from the CJR.  In fact, I already am a subscriber, but there is nothing on this solicitation to tell me when my subscription will lapse.  Without that data, why should I re-up?

The CJR isn't alone.  Here's another from The Atlantic offering me a great deal on a renewal.  Once again, no data about how long I have on my current subscription.  No suggestion that there might be a way I could renew and pay for that renewal online.

We subscribe to a lot of magazines.  This type of know-nothingness happens weekly.  It's no wonder the industry is in decline.  Its management just doesn't grasp how to reach and relate to subscribers and customers, both actual and potential.






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