Bizarre web strategy of the day, Rolling Stone edition

April 24, 2009

I’m ashamed to admit that I never read all of the long and famous Matt Taibbi screed on the financial system which I linked to a month ago. So faced with a plane ride tomorrow, I thought I’d read it then. Except, inexplicably, Rolling Stone has decided to horribly truncate it, and in its place I find this:

For Matt Taibbi’s complete report, including the people behind the crash and a look at those who stand to profit from it, check out Issue 1075 of Rolling Stone.

This is Not Useful: since that particular issue of RS came out, there have been two new issues (one with Lil’ Wayne on the cover, and one with the Kings of Leon), which means the only way I’m likely to be able to check out Issue 1075 is by getting myself to the library. And much as I love Taibbi snark, I don’t love it enough to do that.

I think it’s silly for magazines to truncate their articles online in the hope that readers will then go to the newsstand to buy the physical copy. And that’s what RS did as recently as February, when it was sensibly attacked by Choire Sicha for doing so. Magazines don’t compete with their own websites, they compete with everybody else’s websites.

But at least their was some logic to what Rolling Stone did in February: put the article out in print first, and then only online in full once the next issue hits the newsstands.

The new strategy makes no sense at all: first put the article out in full online, and then truncate it when it’s no longer on newsstands. Huh? What earthly purpose does that serve?

Update: If you want to read untruncated Taibbi, he’s got a classic piece of Friedman-bashing over at True/Slant.


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