December 5, 2013 Last Updated 10:13 am

Medium: another of the new platforms designed for writers who want to go it alone

Media writers remain enamored with platforms that provide simple, easy to design web pages, without having to work with designers

For publishing professionals who are not editors or reporters, it is increasingly hard to stomach the desires of journalists who want to live in a world without art directors and ad sales people. Every new publishing platform that comes around is met with cheers and articles that point to the lack of a need for designers and other publishing partners. One might think that journalists are just not that into their co-workers.

The latest publishing platform receiving media attention is Medium, a new blogging platform that does, indeed, create attractive pages, and with a minimum of effort.

Created by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, the website has just added new capabilities and improvements.

“Last year, we set out on a mission to build a new publishing platform from scratch — a place that allowed anyone to easily share stories and ideas that mattered to them and influenced others<” Williams wrote on Medium’s blog page.

Medium-menu-lg“One of our goals was to make it dead simple to write and present a beautiful story without having to be a designer or programmer. We also sought to help great ideas quickly find the right audience — no matter who they came from.”

If you are a designer or programmer you are no doubt a little offended. But few, if any, journalists seem bothered at all. TechCrunch’s post by Jordan Crook read like a press release (maybe it was derived from one) and failed to mention the obvious downsides to the new platform.

Those downsides are the same as usually pop-up in these new platforms – the lack of sophisticated design options, the fact that the platform forces the author to publish to the company’s URL, a lack of monetization opportunities.

My own, limited, experience with the platform was totally positive. It IS easy to use and design pages

There is a reason Flipboard, OnSwipe and other platforms have been created: to make money for their creators by using the content of others.

This isn’t a unique proposition as every platform owner wants to profit from the content of others – cable TV would not exist if not for this business model. But Comcast is not a creation platform, it is a distribution platform. These new publishing platforms create both. It would be as if users of Adobe DPS could only launch their new digital publications on (and this is the biggest complaint about Apple’s iBooks Author, the lack of publishing options outside of Apple’s world).

That does not mean that Medium has no potential – far from it. I am in no position to judge whether Medium can succeed in attracting authors and publishers. My own, limited, experience with the platform was totally positive. It IS easy to use and design pages.

But like other platforms, one wonders if publishers will be drawn to it in the naive view that they can capitalize on the audience drawn to the platform. The backlash against Flipboard is just starting to heat up, and the condition of the Apple App Store is so bad that digital publishers will likely be desperate to seek alternative outlets after 3+ years of efforts have led to disappointing results.

We’ll see. But one thing authors and publishers need to keep in mind is that there is no barrier to entry to the web-based publishing world. For every Blogger, Tumblr, OnSwipe or Medium that is launched, others can just as easily be launched, as well. The introduction of yet another digital publishing platform based on the web only makes the fragmentation issue greater still. It might even make print seem like a good platform to consider.

  • […] Media writers remain enamored with platforms that provide simple, easy to design web pages, without having to work with designers  […]

  • Jason L. Baptiste 4 years ago

    Hey DB, we’re actually providing the best of both worlds – the better experience of a Flipboard or Medium, but letting publishers maintain control. Apps like Flipboard and publishing tools like Medium have set a new standard for user experience in the mobile world. The problem is, most of their audience isn’t on those platforms, it’s on their own domain. We think the key is to let publishers get the beauty that Medium or Flipboard gives them, but deliver on their own terms to control their own destiny.