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James J. Spanfeller serves as President & Chief Executive Officer of, a leading media Internet company, and as Executive Vice President of Electronic Publishing for Forbes, publisher of Forbes,[…]

The CEO speculates on the future media landscape.

Question: How do online stories differ from print stories?


Spanfeller:    We spend a lot of time thinking about this because we have obviously print ad online and one of the things that we’ve come to is that there has to be some similarities but to you know, just sort of question is with some differences as well.  So, similarities are that at its core every Forbes story should try to make the reader smarter or richer or both.  Right, if you want to stilt it all down, that’s what we’re trying to get to.  We do that often by being a tag contrarian and by usually having a point of view and default process there is that by giving our user base a point of view, they can make up their own impressions, their own opinions more easily.  So, if you go back I think which Harry Truman who said that “I’d like to have 100 economists please.”  And they said Mr. President you know, what’s up with that, he said, well I hate this folks to come in and say one hand is this and the other hand is this, you know, give me your opinion as long as it’s factually based, I can then make up my own opinion based upon what you said, doesn’t mean I’ll agree with it and we don’t expect to all of our readers to agree with all of our stories, in fact we hope there’s some hidden disagreements around that.  Now, in terms of what should be more involved in an online opportunity versus a print opportunity I think that you’ve got to think about the mediums as they exist.  So, in print, it’s a longer format, it’s a more graphically rich format it’s a more leisurely consumed format.  So, stories tend to be more reflective and more predictive.  Online it’s more about what’s happening the last day or 2 days or a week probably the extreme and what might happen the next day or 2 days or 2 hours in terms of look forward situation.  The other part of that of course is the web is raised itself directly.  So, we don’t expect anyone to read, all 5000, all those stories that we publish everyday, in fact no one individual on our shop resolve 5000 stories, I know it’s humanly possible to read 5000 stories a day or hopeful that you know, each of those stories will contribute to somebody’s day, some place around the world in a positive way.


Question: How will mobile technology change media?


Spanfeller:    I don’t think we’re able to answer that yet and part of the reason on the answer that yet is that we’re not really sure as an industry or as you know, as a society of what those handheld units would be able to do, right?  But clearly there will be something different, right it’s a smaller screen you will be able to express the same thing that you can express in the same way, its got a 23 to 17 inch screen as you can express on the 3 to 6 inch screen or for that matter on a 24 to 16 inch screen.  If you go back to your living room, I think video will translate very easily and probably already has, we’ve already seen that.  How the rest of it works is TVD, you know and it’s very crude levels if you look at wap sites on the rest, into your point it’s very much more a text based in lot less graphics because you know, simply waiting for those graphics to download will be forever but as the handheld devices get better and as importantly or more importantly as the infrastructure gets better, as you moved from a 3G to a 4G environment or some providers suggesting that the 4G environment will actually be cable mode of speed.  Now, all of a sudden you’re going to have a whole different way of thinking about what shows up in that handheld device and help put that you can then move from one screen to the next.  So, now, you want to try and basically communicate a lot in a real small piece of a real state.  As you get to this faster download speeds, the idea of going through more and more real state and more and more screens because of much easier thing to think about understand.  So, we’re still at the you know, at the doorstep to what… mobile will mean for content providers and the rest and it’s you know, it’s going to be a long interesting fun, dynamic track.