Forbes.com and the Daily Mail website suggest that merging print and web versions may not be a media panacea after all.


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Is integration the one true way?” was written by Peter Preston, for The Observer on Saturday 14th May 2011 23.03 UTC

Steve Forbes, billionaire owner of Forbes magazine, is in London to plug a new European edition and reveals that his website, Forbes.com, has 20 million unique visitors now – and has been profitable since 2003. The secret? Forbes started and ran it separately from the print version, he says: there was no integration, no journalists or managers switching constantly from one medium to the next.

What lessons, meanwhile, can we draw from the Daily Mail‘s online rise to 65 million unique browsers a month? The Mail sings a Forbesian tune: separation, not integration. The web is one thing, print rather another.

Meanwhile, at Columbia University journalism school in New York, Emily Bell, former Guardian and Observer digital supremo turned academic, broods on a new survey of newspapers’ ways on the web. “In the past 10 years, so many news organisations have assumed that integration is the right path – and for some it might be – but the evidence shows that often the requirements of a completely different business are best served by a single point of focus.” Just like one size, it seems, one thesis doesn’t fit all.

■ Who writes Alexander Lebedev’s speeches? “In Moscow, my grandparents were academics,” he told an Oxford audience last week, delivering in the first Gorbachev lecture on press freedom. “I remember my grandfather cutting up Pravda after he’d read it from cover to cover and then carefully stacking them in the bathroom to use as loo paper … How ironic that today we print thousands of acres of paper … and I can now use conventional loo paper. But what has not changed is our hunger for knowledge and our wish to disseminate it.”

So throw away your fish and chips wrappings. And hail the Evening Standard‘s own freedom trek under his ownership by becoming “free of price, or as I prefer to describe it, priceless”.

Surely he wrote that himself?

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