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Now and Then: 6 Big Ways the Publishing Industry Has Changed

By Kristin Granero

As time goes by, it can be easy to overlook (and even take for granted) little—make that huge!—advances that are being made in your industry. Read on as editors reflect on some of those changes of the past ten years that have had the biggest impact on their day-to-day.

1. Research

It’s hard to imagine life before search engines but, for many, the struggle has been real. “One of the most revolutionary changes has been the democratization, and speed, of information gathering. There was no Google when I was starting out! To get the information I needed, I would do one of two things: I would call or email first-hand sources, or head to the library. The jackpot would be a LexisNexis article search, but not every employer could afford to carry that service, and a freelancer would not have access to it. Now, I don’t write or edit an article without looking up countless details online, from the spelling of names to background,” says Ingrid Abramovitch, Senior Editor at Elle Décor. Even though Abramovitch admits she would not have wanted to be an editor “pre-Google,” she also cautions that it should be taken with a grain of salt: “It’s fast and efficient but some things have been lost. Calling up a source always yields interesting information that makes an article richer. And of course information found online is not entirely reliable.”

2. Hiring

With every advancement comes a new skillset (that belongs on your resume). “At my first magazine job almost ten years ago, I primarily looked for interns who had previous internship experience and actively wrote for a campus newspaper or magazine. Now, I look for candidates who know SEO and HTML and understand what makes an article go viral,” says Lauren Metz, Digital Manager at Warner Bros. “Even if you would never accept a job at a website and you only want to work in print, you should still write for a few websites and understand how social and digital and print fit together, because that’s where the growth is for the industry,” adds Kate Winick, Social Media Manager at Who What Wear.

3. Brainstorming

Another life-changer when it comes to publishing and the big idea mill? Social media. “I welcome it. I get tons of ideas from looking at other’s feeds. It also provides an outlet for more immediate news or smaller ideas that would never make it into the magazine,” says Abramovitch.

4. Lead Time

Social media has also led to more flexibility as to what and when an outlet can publish. “Before, if we didn’t have the story three months in advance, there was no way to get the news out there. Our magazine is still this wonderfully curated publication, but now we editors have a means of sharing all the amazing things we see on a daily basis,” says Abramovitch.

5. Content Packaging

“In the past, there wasn’t nearly as much emphasis on creating original content for online. That has completely changed,” says Metz. “Think of it like Netflix — sometimes you get on Netflix knowing what you want to watch, and sometimes you get on and browse for an hour because you’re not sure. For publishing, sometimes people want content on demand, but they still appreciate having amazing stories hand-picked for them that they might not have sought out on their own. I’m glad the industry has evolved so that we can serve our audience in both of those ways,” adds Elisa Benson, Senior Community Manager at Cosmopolitan, of the importance of being able to offer both print and online content.

6. Delivery

Just remember: with all the new opportunities for content and platforms that didn’t exist ten years ago, there’s more competition (and the need for creativity). “We have to fight to get eyeballs on the story, so we might change the headline a million times or push it out on social a few different ways. You’re hoping that someone who is absentmindedly scrolling through their Facebook newsfeed will take two seconds to stop and look at your story. That impacts the kind of content we do because we want to cater to what audiences willingly read. This is why everyone on the internet writes about the Kardashians so much — because people love to read about them! That’s completely different from traditional magazines, where editors have the luxury of a captive audience,” says Benson.

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