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Executive Report - By Thomas Baekdal - July 2011

Give Your Articles a Life

The life of a digital article far outranks the initial circulation. Publishing online is not about what you published today or this week. It is a long-term strategy.

One of the really big differences between print and digital publishing is the lifespan of an article. In print, the lifespan is roughly one day - or the time it takes to read it.

Print articles are dead on arrival. They have no life. Sure there is a minimal amount of sharing in the print world, but the level are extremely low. The overall lifespan of a print article is very short. Most newspapers are simple thrown out after a few days.

Because of this, people in the print world have developed tactics to keep an article going. Since they cannot reference or "link" to an older print article, journalists are instructed to repeat the story if something new happens. They cannot ask people to go back to read the paper from last Friday when it is now at the dump.

This is, of course, a complete wastes of everyone's time, but it is the best you can do in the print world.

This also introduces a culture of seeing the past as something that is dead and gone. We see this very clearly when traditional newspapers go online. They talk about archives of news.

Just the word - archive - sounds like a dusty old warehouse that no one ever visits. It is like the attic or some dark corner of the basement.

In the digital world we do not have archives. Every article is a live article. It is just as easy to read an older article as it is to read a new one. The lifespan of an digital article is not determined by the circulation of the moment it was published.

Digital articles can live on for a very long time, if you allow them to. And their longevity far outranks their initial traffic from the day (or week) it was published.

Three examples:

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What is Baekdal?

Baekdal is a magazine for media professionals, focusing on media analysis, trends, patterns, strategy, journalistic focus, and newsroom optimization. Since 2010, it has helped publishers in more than 40 countries, including big and small publishers like Condé Nast, Bonnier, Schibsted, NRC, and others, as well as companies like Google and Microsoft.

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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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