Shouldn't It Have Happened?

Many print circulation executives still claim that their periodicals shouldn’t be published online for free because that will cannibalize their circulation. However, many years of surveys have showed that didn’t happen.

Nevertheless, the fallacy of their claim betrays an even darker truth:

Shouldn’t that cannibalization have happened? If the Web has all the advantages that New Media executives say, then if newspaper and magazine content is freely available on the Web, shouldn’t that have significantly cannibalized those periodicals’ print edition circulations?

When the shovelware, free-access Web edition doesn’t cannibalize paid print circulation, it’s a clear signal that the Web is the wrong online vehicle for that publication. There is something wrong if cannibalization hasn’t happened. Unfortunately, that is what has happened with most newspapers’ and magazines’ Web sites.