My “new” favorite type of articles

This past weekend my wife and I went on a little weekend getaway to disconnect a bit.  Fortunately for where we live, we didn’t have to go too far to break away…. we stayed on Miami Beach (low 80’s and sunny all weekend).  It was absolutely beautiful and a perfect few days “away”.  

One of our goals of the trip was to disconnect from work and truly relax together.  With that in mind I went equipped with my new iPad Mini, an Amazon Kindle, hard books (2 of them), magazines, and plenty of workout clothes.  Exercise was a no brainer as we both like to be outside and we took advantage of the weather with very long walks/jogs on the beach, weight room work, etc.  It was awesome and energizing to workout each day.

Reading was also a big part of the trip and I brought so many options since I wasn’t sure what “mood” I was going to be in (we don’t do these trips often).  So I first started with a business book that I’m reading and quickly realized that although the book was great, it was getting my BrightGauge mental juices flowing way too much for the vacation.  I found myself standing up while reading and looking for a notepad…. not something I wanted to do on the beach.  Next I tried, on my kindle again, reading a “book for pleasure” which for me was biography on Thomas Jefferson.  My choice was again poor for the quick vacation, the book was way too long and the best thing it did for me was put me to sleep!  I was a bit stumped on day 1 as I didn’t want to get on the Internet and start reading blog posts or news articles.  I read those every day of my life.  I wanted to read something engaging and entertaining but not a big commitment…  

Day 2 we hit the gym and at the entrance there was the magazine the “New York Magazine” with the cover of Alex Rodriguez.  I picked it up and started reading….and didn’t stop!

The article was fantastic not just because it’s an interesting topic to me but because it was long, very well researched and extremely well written.  This was it, my holy grail for the weekend, long magazine articles that I never get around to reading during the normal day to day grind.  That day I scoured Apple’s Newstand for more magazines and ended up reading amazing articles from previous issues of Wired, The Economist, The Atlantic, and Fortune all weekend. And as you may have guessed, I read them all from my new iPad Mini.  Glare wasn’t too bad mid-day and the portability is amazing.

But back to my point, these “types” of articles.  All the magazines I mentioned provide phenomenal content as they have the resources to pay for true investigation and/or opinion, the talent to write well, and the focus to deliver REAL content.  I distinguish real versus the everyday 24/7 news coverage that is blasted everywhere and the perfect example was that A-Rod story that captured my attention.  

I’ve been hearing about his baseball suspension almost every day on ESPN radio for months but it wasn’t until I read the article I linked above that I was able to understand what was really going on. Steve Fishman, the writer, did an incredible job of bringing up all the facts from the story from real interviews and laying it out for the readers.  In fact, I couldn’t believe the backstory I read about regarding Major League Baseball (MLB) around this saga and was equally amazed on how ESPN radio and other blogs I had read previously didn’t scratch the surface about any of his details.  It seems most of what I read was people reporting on the same superficial “headlines” that they all read from each other.  

It was so much fun to read these magazines (that was just one example) and more importantly I was very happy to pay for them.  Hopefully these periodicals and other respectable news outlets figure out how to monetize their efforts again because I think we will all better off with real news, real research, and real content.

  • You can have great content like this online, the problem is how web content is found and how it is monetized. For example, if I am paid based on page views or unique users, my goal is to get as many people as I can, regardless of their value. Since most of these people come via search, my best best is to have as much volume loading up search as I can. One long article doesn’t help as much as ten short ones.
    Magazines on the other hand sell the value of their specific audience. By this I mean, that as an advertiser, I know exactly the type of person who reads magazine X. So, even if their readership is low, my ad is targeted only at potential consumers of my product. That is why magazines often have such specific topic areas. In this scenario, better, targeted content pays off more than content volume.
    What we need to do is find a way to make better, targeted content pay on the web.
    (PS. Commenting was behaving weird. Sorry if you got repeats but they weren’t showing up)

  • Thanks for the comment! I agree with the targeted content being the play for magazines and other periodicals. I also think there could be another way to monetize content. For instance, I like how the WSJ now lets you read one or two articles for free per day but any more requires a subscription.
    My problem is the expectation the Internet has created for FREE content. This is awful as its impossible to provide high value for free. What’s happening is a decrease in value and acceptance by all of us readers.
    You get what you pay for in this country and what we’re mostly getting is NOISE for free!