A couple of months ago, I interviewed Jim Glionna, president and owner of Newcom Business Media, for a profile that appears in the final print edition of Masthead. Glionna, who's been in this business for 40 years and was preceded in it by his father, Alfredo Orazio Glionna, had strong opinions about every topic I brought up, including the Web:
"I wish the Web had never happened. The Web has been, for 99% of publishers, the worst thing that’s ever come down the pipe. It’s just a goddamn big money pit," he said. "But you gotta be there."
TodaysTrucking.com, the website for Newcom's flagship magazine, Today's Trucking, has won gold or silver for Best Website at the Kenneth R. Wilson Awards every year since the category was introduced. Along with senior editor Marco Beghetto, who devotes about 40% of his time to maintaining and developing the site's content, Glionna also employs a webmaster for TodaysTrucking.com and a company-wide director of Internet operations.
And yet, despite these investments (and others in design, back-end development, etc.), Glionna hasn't seen much payoff. "Are we making any money on the Web? No. Are we spending much money on the Web? Yes."
When I asked him why he bothers with the Web at all, his answer surprised me. "It seems like we have to. Glacier (publisher of TruckNews) has got a good site too...We gotta stay ahead."
In other words, it's about maintaining the credibility and strength of the Today's Trucking brand. Though there may not be a ton of online revenue available in his market at this point, Glionna recognizes that, whether he likes it or not, people will use the Internet to seek out information about trucking. When they do, he wants TodaysTrucking.com to be their number one source. And then, if and when the dollars do become available, he'll be well-positioned to pounce.