Salon CEO: Traditional Media are ‘Distracted’ by the iPad; If it Succeeds, They’ll Just Become ‘Steve Jobs’ Bitches’

Gingras.bmpWe were chatting with Salon Media CEO Richard Gingras about the site’s impressive traffic numbers, when we got sidetracked into a discussion about the iPad. Gingras told us he thinks the lovefest traditional publishers are having with Apple’s shiny new toy is a “potentially fatal distraction.”

They’re looking at it as a way to save an old model, which is a dead model…. It’s shifting their attention away from the real challenge, which is how to create editorial products that are responsive and effective and sustainable in this very, very different world of Web content and this very different world of Web behavior. You can focus now on the iPad because you think it’s going to save your model and make your glossy magazine somehow electronically sustainable, but you’re going to do that at the peril of not really understanding how the medium works.

Gingras, a long-time Silicon Valley executive who has been a consultant at Google, a product manager at Apple, and the creator of the first interactive online news magazine back in 1979, continued:

In the old model, a lot of these guys had distribution control. Whether they were a major newspaper or a major news magazine, they had significant distribution control and they could use that to jack up advertising pricing. They can’t do that online because they can’t control distribution. They’re not going to be able to control distribution on the iPad either. And in fact, if the iPad is to any degree successful for what they want it to, they’re simply going to end up being Steve Jobs’ bitch.