Friday, April 25, 2008

Publish or Perish

I woke this morning and realized that I had missed the Big Point in my last post.

Last night, I was lamenting over the fact that another EP journal had been born – one of a series of six new journals of the “Circulation” line from the American Heart Association – one more to try to scour to keep current.

But this morning I found myself asking, “Why more journals?"

In the era of the Internet, print media throughout the world is struggling. Readership of newspapers and magazines has plummeted as people migrate to the Internet, where information can be organized quickly specific to the reader’s desires. Print media can’t do that. I suspect medical journals are trying to adapt to this “specialization” of topics in a way as the Internet, but older titles have found themselves, like newspapers, with falling readership and fewer advertisers to support the printed word. But as free online peer-reviewed publishing devoid of commercial interests and vetted by the online-community in real-time takes hold, the threat to printed journals grows.

Moreover, every week, my office is inundated with scores of “free” journals filled with white papers promoting the next great widget or medical technique. There are even journals that summarize each week’s journals. These throw-away journals have become more sophisticated, too, with glossy print and all, as advertisers seek new ways to reach their prey: me, the doctor.

So the print media journal publishers, in their push to instill novelty while finely-tuning a more targeted readership, have created a new product line – something that advertising purchasers want. I mean, who’s going to drive the market for $2 million-dollar robots for catheter ablation other than cardiac electrophysiologists? It isn’t going to be the echo guys. Or how about promoting the next cool, high-tech 3-D echo machine, with latest sophisticated dyssynchrony-evaluating software package? Those echo guys are salivating.

Look at the titles of the new Circulation line of journals: Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology, Circulation: Heart Failure, Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics, Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging, Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, and Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions. These titles no longer dwell on an the pathophysiology of an organ system in a patient any longer (remember "Heart?"). No, like the general internists who proceded the specialist with declining revenues, those broader journals had their day generating revenue and notariety. Now, the new titles reflect the era of specialization.

After all, that's where Medicare still pays and business opportunities lie... least for now.



Ian Furst said...

I had a friend that travelled to Singapore as a "journalist". She told me that the magazine specifically hired her to do articles on companies so that they would buy advertising. The way it worked was that she'd do the article on the company, then say she couldn't talk about advertising due to journalistic integrity - but the PR guys would call later -- "do you want to buy an advertisment next to you're article". If no advertising was bought then they article never made it to print.

Every couple of weeks I get a request to submit an article to a journal. Am I being asked to do it for the advancement of science or to facilitate a revenue stream?

john said...

Digital revaluation in print media is worked well. Online readership is increased dramatically from the past three years. All the publishers are presenting their publications through online and some publishers are using the companies like in distribution of publication over the new technology mediums. Digitization becomes the revenue generation tool for all print publishers.