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Follow the Leader: Looking at IDG's move to Web-first

Longtime readers of this blog, as well as the folks who have seen one of my speaking engagements, know that I often point to B2B publisher IDG as a guide to the future. No publisher I know has done a better job of understanding the Web and making the transition away from print.

I've had a pretty good view of the struggles the company has faced as it moved to a Web-first model. And just like everywhere else in journalism, most of those struggles involved stubborn and close-minded people.
Truth be told, IDG has fewer stubborn and close-minded people than any publisher I know. That has given the company a tremendous advantage. But as in most publishing companies, the slow-witted characters tend to be more vocal than the smart people.
I still remember -- vividly -- appearing before a group of reporters and editors at IDG several years ago, shortly after I launched my consulting business. My goal in that appearance was to talk about some of the things that excited me in the world that we would later call Web 2.0. My hope was that some of the editors would share my excitement.
I was able to reach some of those folks. Heck, many of them were already excited about the same things that interested me. All things considered, I think things went pretty well. IDG invited me back several times in the next few years. But what I'll remember most about that first appearance was the number of times a very small part of the audience cursed at me, rolled their eyes, interrupted, whined, insulted, complained and generally behaved like children.

As time has passed, much has changed.
I very, very seldom run into the level of hostility that first greeted me when I began writing this blog and consulting about online publishing.
Almost everyone in B2B publishing today "gets it" to one degree or another.
And no place has changed as quickly or as successfully as IDG.
And, much to my delight, nearly everyone in publishing now understands that IDG is blazing the trail that the rest of the industry will follow.

Today's New York Times has a lengthy feature piece on IDG's transition to Web-first publishing. Anyone who works in journalism should take a look. Pay particular attention to the words of Patrick J. McGovern, the founder and chairman of IDG, who says "The excellent thing, and good news, for publishers is that there is life after print — in fact, a better life after print."

For an earlier post of mine about my early experiences at IDG, take a look at my reaction to the end of InfoWorld's print publication.

tags: , , , , , , , web-first publishing