Magazines, whose bread and butter used to be breaking news (exclusive photos) or making news (silly pronouncements like "Person of the Year"), are scrambling to beef up the security wall between their content and the Internet. But let's face facts: The exclusive is dead. Embargoes are pointless. Computers isolated from the Internet, armed guards, and nondisclosure agreements do nothing to sate the public's insatiable appetite for content. Blogs, on the other hand, are all too happy to feed it. Rather than increasing useless security measures, old media would be better served going with the flow by building open communities. Fortunately, at least one magazine editor, Richard Stengel of Time, gets it.
Stengel observes the benefits provided by Internet leaks: Internet chatter builds buzz. And speculation just increases interest:
In a way, it's a much huger smokescreen now.
Prerelease chatter also builds anticipation for content:
There's a benefit of something leaking out in small ways before, because I think it increases interest.
Now if only the rest of the inbred world of magazine editors would stop obsessing about protecting their content, and thinking instead about how to get it read. It should be obvious, but it bears saying: The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.