Making Money From ‘Context’

Magazines are finding new markets by chopping up their stories and issuing  them as mini e-books.  And, they are making money from it.

They are learning that people no longer want more facts about the news – they are  already overwhelmed by information from TV, radio, blogs, tweets and the internet.

Instead, people look for understanding, for someone to make sense of events for them.  In other words, they are looking for ‘context’.

This has provided a new revenue stream for magazines that republish their ‘contexting’ of events as e-books – same material broken into smaller sections and marketed on line.

And, they are making money from it.

Marketing Vox gives the example of Mother Jones magazine, whose , “online traffic and ad revenues received a significant boost in February due in large part to its ‘Explainer’ articles on events in Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Tunisia, and Wisconsin”.

This helped Mother Jones increase its unique visitors by an astonishing 420%.

Now, Foreign Policy Magazine is repurposing their explanation of the Egyptian uprising as a “mini e-book”. Their first e-book about Northern Afghanistan already sold 5000 copies at $2.99 each.

This is a trend to watch.

More about magazine e-books at

And, more about the importance of context at


2 Responses to “Making Money From ‘Context’”

  1. John Parikhal and Taran Swan’s piece entitled “Making Money From ‘Context,’” tries to capture a neat snapshot of the changing face of media. The article asserts that audiences are looking for journalists to interpret the context of news rather than just reporting facts. Parikhal and Swan are right, but for all the wrong reasons. 

    They prey on the novelty of the notion that providing ‘context’ flies in the face of traditional journalism. Media Fix readers all remember sitting in a classroom learning to identify the most objective facts about a topic or event, classify them by their importance and transcribe them into the unfeeling inverted pyramid. But that was a newswriting class, not a magazine or columnist class. The article fails to mention that magazines have always provided context to their readers, and the e-book format only amounts to a different medium in which to do it. 

    But the authors struck the right cord in offering their insight about what readers are demanding from media. Yes, we want journalists to provide context, but they say it’s because we get too much contextless information. They support this idea by pointing out that people are “overwhelmed by information from TV, radio, blogs, tweets and the internet.” This implies that those media sources don’t provide context – which is plainly wrong. The reason why audiences of late are demanding more context is because they have become accustomed to it from “TV, radio, blogs, tweets and the Internet.” 

    Media itself has changed because the field of content creators is no longer limited to people who went to school for journalism. Ashton Kutcher has more Twitter followers than anyone in the world. Do you think he knows the first thing about the inverted pyramid? No, every piece of content he produces has context. 

    As the media battlefield is invaded by a formless army of do-it-yourself journalists, the rules of engagement disappear. Now that audiences are used to no-rules journalism, media that colors in the lines is no longer interesting. Sometimes, it doesn’t even feel as credible.

    Media has influenced its audience to desire context because media is in the hands of its audience. A magazine or e-book providing context is not offering some kind of respite from cold information, it’s just another context-driven information source reprinting the same content in a new medium. 

  2. Thanks Russell. Our point was that ‘traditional’ journalism was once focused heavily on ‘news’ or events with context taking a bit of a back seat (editorial and opinion pieces, etc.). And, that today’s ‘journalism’ is finding new ways to repurpose material that has already appeared – giving it another revenue stream. You’re right that anyone can be a ‘journalist’ these days (not that ‘school’ was ever necessary to be a great writer or reporter). We still think that the demand for context is growing because of information overload and that it’s appearance on TV, radio, blogs, tweets and the internet is more symptom than cause.

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