Katie Kalass

Navigating the Stormy Seas of Media

When it comes to print journalism, reputation means everything. With local news disappearing, and magazine or newspaper staff declining, the big names may be the lone survivors of the industry.

How does a major name like Fortune Magazine, for example, stay alive during this deterioration of magazines? For starters, they’ve used their reputation in the industry to magnify their strengths, and transform their weaknesses into something consumers not only want – but need.

According to an episode on Recode Media, Fortune was once known only as a magazine, but with its sale to Chatchaval Jiaravanon, it’s now able to push towards live events and other businesses to maintain it’s timeless reputation for success.

Alan Murray explains that through selling the company numerous times, there were missing links to his publications. For a long time, there was not even a website for Fortune. When the magazine was owned by Time Warner, they insisted that there would be just a print magazine, but Murray wanted to control their own destiny.

As the media industry continued contracting, they explain that there was no one to solve the problems of the print media industry and it’s lack of advertising funding. When Jiaravanon came into the picture, he advocated towards building Fortune a global reputation for influence and economic and fortune news. His ownership additionally offered Fortune a chance to add an events business, or sense of community, to the magazine to uphold their ongoing reputation and grow their revenue to stay alive.

The same type of situation can be found in the podcast industry. Although it may be up and coming, there are many changes that must be made for media organizations to stay alive. In an article from Vulture it said that Spotify’s push into podcasting is driven primarily by a need for diversification. The company acquired Gimlet Media, and hopes to diversify products offered to customers through creating a reputation as a podcasting platform in addition to their previous music-streaming success.

The biggest challenge I’ve seen in all of these transformations was the ability to smoothly integrate new types of media into their existing organizations. In a different episode from Recode Media, Gimlet co-founders speak about how they may be able to, “navigate the stormy seas of media” but realized that it wasn’t worth the risk, and Spotify could offer them a new realm of opportunities. They speak a lot about integrating the two popular mediums for audio, and this ultimately made both companies more successful.

My biggest question is: How do you transform an organization without eliminating its original purpose? Is there anyway to salvage their original purpose while integrating new areas for success?

We’ve seen this happen as many media organizations move their news online, but I’m eager to see how things work out for the podcasting industry, and for Fortune Magazine. My best bet – their reputation will take them a long way – and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

One thought on “Navigating the Stormy Seas of Media

  1. Katie, I agree that the big question really lies in maintaining one’s original purpose. For Gimlet, I think this is their real reasoning for selling to Spotify. They acknowledged that Spotify’s resources can more-easily help align them with their original purpose, despite the fact that their business would likely be able to survive even if they didn’t sell. I hope that Fortune will have a similar fate, but I am less confident in it. I definitely agree, however, that in navigating the tough world that is media, having funding from a major name plays a key role in an outlet’s survival.


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