The light at the end of the press

Here is required reading for every news executive — editorial or business: Colin Crawford, svp of online at IDG, blogs that his company is now over the hump. It’s more an online company than a print company. Sure, I can hear you say, trade and niche are easier than mass. But only by degrees and timing. Says Crawford:

. . . Today the absolute dollar growth of our online revenues now exceeds the decline in our print revenues. This occurred in the US in 2006 and in Europe during the last quarter.

With this change in the revenue mix and the higher margins from our online businesses – the company is more profitabl[e] today than it has been previously. . . .

In the US, our online revenue now accounts for over 35% of our total US publishing revenues. Next year, for many brands online revenues will be greater than print revenues, if fact they already are at some of our key brands and by 2009 – approximately 50% of IDG’s US revenues will come from online.

Let’s write that on the whiteboard: Online will account for more than a third of revenue and for some businesses more than half. Online’s growth is more than making up for print’s decline. And the company is more profitable today.

See, it can be done. It is being done.

To drive this change and to focus on online revenue we’ve changed the business mission of our organization away from print. Going forward IDG Communications will define itself as a web centric information company complemented by expos, events and print publications.

I can hear some crying: That’s cheating. Expos. That’s not publishing. But publishing isn’t publishing anymore. It’s about information and connections, so you need to find many new ways to make them. And, no, it’s not easy. But it’s about reinvention:

The brutal reality that we’re facing today is the costly process of dismantling and replacing legacy operations and cultures and business models with ones with new and yet to be fully proven business models. However, we face greater risks if we don’t transform our organization and take some chances.

In the past media organizations controlled content and pushed it out to subscribers, today’s media has to deal with a world of social connections, networking and collective actions enabled by the Internet.

The more enlightened in our media world will figure how to allow their audiences freedom to create and share their knowledge and content and to mash it up in a way that engages users.

We have to become facilitators as much as content creators – our brands are trusted, they have quality content and loyal audiences – these are our competitive advantages but we’ll only hold onto those assets if we truly listen to our communities and provide appropriate environments for user initiated conversations and user created content

Figuring out the transformation from print to online is only the start. The information we produce, facilitate and aggregate increasingly will be viewed on a number of screens – the Computer, the TV, the smart mobile phone, the iPod and other portable entertainment devices. Many of these screens are more suited to video and audio than text. Even more new skills for our organization to master!

We’re in an exciting growth industry. Let’s shake off the image of being in a beleaguered print industry and seize the opportunities afforded to us by the digital revolution.

Standing O! Shout amen! This is your Moses and that’s the promised land. It is not a land of milking money. It is a kingdom of connections. (Sorry, I’ll stop now.)

This is a most impressive post not just because it encapsulates where (I think) media must go but because it proves that it can work. [via PaidContent]