Godin predicts that The New Yorker will go out of business a few dozen words before noting:
People will pay for content if it is so unique they can’t get it anywhere else, so fast they benefit from getting it before anyone else, or so related to their tribe that paying for it brings them closer to other people. […] People will not pay for by-the-book rewrites of news that belongs to all of us. People will not pay for yesterday’s news, driven to our house, delivered a day late, static, without connection or comments or relevance.
Everything he notes about what content people will pay for applies to The New Yorker, perhaps more than to any other magazine appealing to the same audience. Likewise, the magazine goes far beyond each of the kinds of things Godin says people won’t pay for. Above all, New Yorker content is unique, “tribal,” and always provided with connection, comment, and relevance.
The contradiction may stem from an equivocation between high-profile magazines like The New Yorker and Condé Nast (on which Godin is also bearish) and much-beleaguered formats like the newspaper—which, as we all seem to know by now, can’t do classifieds as well as Craigslist, can’t sell advertising as well as magazines, can’t be as timely as online news outlets, can’t be as relevant or unique as high-dollar outfits (either online or offline) with national offices and best-of-the-best staffs.
Just this morning, The Lone Gunman posted a thoughtful piece on these issues, wondering, “[C]ould the success of The Economist be attributed to [its] evolution from newspaper counterprogramming to counterprogramming for the ‘undigested, undigestible information online’?”