July 14, 2013

Indian Country Today goes digital

National Native American magazine going digital

By The Associated PressA weekly magazine that is a leading source of Native American news is abandoning print in favor of an online-only presence, in a cost-cutting move that worries some readers who fear they may lose access because of the switch.

This Week From Indian Country Today, a New York City-based publication owned by the Oneida Nation, will become an online newsletter starting with its July 17 issue.

“In the age we live in, technology is really advanced to a point that we’re trying to make sure we’re serving what our audience really needs,” said Indian Country Today publisher Ray Halbritter. Converting to an online newsletter that is emailed to subscribers will eliminate some of the lag time between when news happens and when it appears in writing, he said.

The magazine, which was started in 1981, provides a mixture of straight news stories and commentary by tribal members, and it is often a way for politicians to get their messages out to Native American communities. President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner have all done interviews or written opinion pieces.
And:Sheena Louise Roetman, a 28-year-old Atlanta resident who is Creek and Lakota, describes Indian Country Today as a trustworthy source that she considers to be the “Native version of the New York Times.” She said she worries that by eliminating print copies of Indian Country Today, some tribal members—especially older ones—will have less access to the information.

Others think the digital-only strategy makes sense for tribal nations working to improve access to the Internet.

The Seneca Nation in New York, for example, has two reservations with basic dial-up Internet, but the tribal government is working to upgrade to broadband, said Samantha Nephew, a 23-year-old marketing specialist for a Seneca Nation-owned corporation. She said she’s a regular reader of the magazine.

“I think when that happens, the Seneca Nation members will have more incentive to check out (Indian Country Today) digitally,” she said.

Rhonda LeValdo, the president of the Native American Journalist Association, said Indian Country Today’s switch to digital-only could be seen as a positive step for Native communities because it may free up resources for more reporting and accelerate the push for greater access to broadband. And, she added, traditional tribal newspapers may see people who prefer print turning to them for their news.
Comment:  Is delivering the news faster really the main issue? The Oneida Nation could publish the print magazine and an electronic newsletter if it wanted to.

For some reason, this article failed to mention the main reason most publications are going online: to reduce costs so the owners make more money. That point should be addressed in any article about a publication's canceling its print component.

LeValdo talks about freeing up resources, but it remains to be seen whether this will happen. With less advertising and subscriber revenue, I'd guess that ICTMN will do (even) less original reporting, not more.

For more on Native journalism, see Lone Ranger vs. Real News and Native Media Limited at Lone Ranger Premiere.

Below:  "Indian Country Today publisher Ray Halbritter poses with the last print edition of the magazine and its new online newsletter at his office July 11 in Verona, N.Y." (AP Photo)


dmarks said...

"For some reason, this article failed to mention the main reason most publications are going online: to reduce costs so the owners make more money"

Or in an environment of plummeting ad revenues and soaring costs, the case might be, as with many newspapers, not to make MORE money, but to stop LOSING it as bad. Or even break even.

Newsweek, for example, was losing money big-time before the print version was killed. It is not a matter of greedy capitalists rolling in the dough and wanting to make "more money."

Rob said...

Here's an article on what often happens when a publication goes digital:


New York magazine’s bad bet

The storied weekly earned plaudits for scaling back on print. Here's why it shouldn't have

Let’s go back for a moment to New York magazine, once among the birthplaces of the New Journalism.

That statement from the magazine—that no layoffs are planned? Anyone who’s been a working journalist has heard that one before. And when publication becomes less frequent—regardless of what goes on with the website—it often leads to a death spiral in which subscriptions fall, so does advertising, then revenues decline. It generally does not end well.