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Speaking at the Dive into Media conference on Tuesday, the 29-year-old Hughes spoke about the state of the magazine but offered no clear answers to questions about its future profitability.
According to Hughes, the New Republic has 44,000 subscribers, which is up from the 34,000 when he bought it. Despite the small number, he said “for the moment, we make money in print” but acknowledged the operation is not making money overall.
“I think we can be profitable, not this year, probably not next year, but there’s a route to it,” said Hughes.
Hughes and fellow panelist Larry Kramer, president and publisher of USA Today, also praised traditional news brands as curators and a source of conversation.
In short, Hughes didn’t appear to have any solid answers about how he will make money from the New Republic — but for now he doesn’t seem to care and appears happy to embrace what host Kara Swisher described as his “do-gooder” and “Lincoln-y”mission.
Hughes did address the role of social media for publishers, saying it brings in 25 percent of website traffic. He also noted that his former employer is not especially helpful for spreading stories.
“Facebook has an interesting challenge when it comes to newsfeed products. They tend to reward images rather than links and the sort of journalism we do. It means we spend more time about Twitter.”
(Want to learn more about monetization strategies for content? Come join us at the paidContent Live conference in New York on April 17).
This story was updated on Wednesday to reflect that the New Republic’s subscriber numbers are 44,000 not 45,000 and that the publication had 34,000 not 38,000 before Hughes purchased it.