Print journals invade the Internet

Print journals invade the Internet

Liebman, Milton

The invention of movable type, credited to Johann Gutenberg in 1437, revolutionized communications via the printed page, as evidenced in the medical field by the large number of journals published. Now, type is on the move again, from ink-on-paper to digital form on the computer screen via the Internet.

An increasing number of the long-established, traditional journals that land on doctors’ desks also appear on their computer screens. At least 55 specialty and multi-specialty journals, at latest count, are a double click away.

Most recently, the American Medical Association (AMA) has posted the full editorial content of current and past issues of JAMA, its 10 Archive specialty journals, and AMNews on the organizations publication web site. The service is free “for a limited time,” the AMA announced.

The content appears in a searchable format, in which viewers are able to locate information using key text words, author names, or related articles. References at the end of articles are linked to the full-text versions when available on the site, and to abstracts if they appear on MEDLINE. Articles can be printed directly in text format or downloaded as PDF files, which appear the same as the print-on-paper version.

Response from publishers

In a survey conducted by the Association of Medical Publications (AMP) this past summer, 10 of its 18 publishing members divulged company information about their Internet activities. All respondents had web sites, and listed 36 journals that appear in full or in part.

Ninety percent of responding journals post all or selected articles from the printed version on the Web. Other editorial displayed included content pages, departments, and abstracts.

Six of the 10 publishers develop content especially for the site, “to take advantage of the medium,” one said. Additional clinical features include symposia or conferences and material from other publications.

Information for advertisers is also presented on web sites, such as rate cards and media kits for the print publications.

Advertising opportunities offered

Publishers accept advertising, under various guidelines. Some take Web advertising alone, others in combination with journal space. Three of the 10 AMP respondents do not take paid ads.

Seven of the publishers accept banner ads, seven put up links to other sites, and three offer sponsorships.

Major publishers who told AMP that they offered cyberspace versions of their journals include Medical Economics Co.

(Medical Economics, Patient Care, Contemporary specialty journals, others), McGraw-Hill (Postgraduate Medicine, Hospital Practice, Physician and Sportsmedicine), Hearst (Diversions), American Academy of Family Physicians (American Family Physician, Family Practice Management).

Also, Advanstar Communications (Modern Medicine, Formulary), and medical publications from Appleton & Lange, Alliance Medical Communications, Dowden Publishing, and International Medical News Group/Saunders. Slack posts nine of its specialty medical publications on its site.

In addition, SCP Communications is linked to, and articles from its four open advertising print journals appear on the site. Medscape operates a Publishers’ Circle that contracts with journals, allowing content to appear on the site, in full or in part. Among the major journals and professional publications appearing are Physicians Financial News, Medical Tribune, U.S. Pharmacist, and CHEST

More publishers to launch sites

Medical Marketing & Media spoke to several publishers not receiving or responding to the AMP survey. They all plan to be Internet participants. Cliggott Publishing, now merged with SCP, is working to post content from its seven monthly journals as well as customized clinical content next year. Quadrant HealthCom is exploring arrangements for journal content to appear on existing or new sites, in addition to Hospital Medicine, now carried on Medscape.

All publishers with web sites find that traffic has been increasing this year. The problems that journal publishers face on the Internet are similar to those who manage other sites – seeking improved revenue flow. Resource allocation, generating more advertising, lowering cost of operation, and seeking other revenue sources rank high on the list of items clouding the screen.

None of the publishers is lessening the emphasis on their branded print products, the information pipelines to physicians. They feel that clients undervalue online media. However slowly, more and more physicians are utilizing the computer, according to surveys, and the Internet is growing as a source of practice information.

The Internet sites have commercial potential as viewership expands. For example, the AMA publication site (www. has a commercial designation, rather than .org which appears on its organization sites.

It’s not the medium, it’s the message, journal publishers seem to be saying, and they will distribute it by the most reader-convenient, economically sound form of transmittal.

Milton Liebman is a contributing editor for MMCM.

Copyright CPS Communications Nov 1999

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