For a Change - by Dan Liebman

As the great poet/musician Bob Dylan so eloquently wrote 45 years ago, “The Times They Are a-Changin’.”

Though the rock icon was writing about the political and social upheaval of that era, the title track of his 1964 album is often referred to when any major societal changes are occurring.

At The Blood-Horse, which has been publishing since 1916, the times are also changing.

Though our mission remains the same—to serve Thoroughbred owners and breeders—the ways in which we fulfill that important goal have evolved greatly over the years.

The greatest change in modern-day journalism, the World Wide Web, enables us to reach owners, breeders, and everyone else connected to the Thoroughbred much more quickly. But it allows for  a lot more than that.

Through the Internet, media organizations are able to provide their readers with considerably more information and by more user-friendly means. Space limitations known to print publishers go away. Sortability, unable to occur on a printed page, becomes possible. Archives, previously achieved through old volumes on a shelf, are immediately available by the click of a mouse.

Publications no longer measure themselves strictly by a count of subscribers. They are also keenly interested in unique daily visitors, blog traffic, number of PDF (portable document format) downloads, and the most important thing, visibility via Google and other search engines.

For more than 10 years now, those desiring the latest Thoroughbred industry news have turned to BloodHorse.com, meaning when the weekly magazine arrives, a simple rehashing of news stories, stakes results, and auction data is not good enough. But analysis, features, commentaries, and stories about a stakes winner’s family make the print product as valuable as ever.

The change does not just apply to editorial content, but to advertising as well. While printed ads are still vital in driving home a message, online provides an immediate avenue for the delivery of marketing information via ads, sponsorships, and now more than ever, through video.

Posting on the Web is not even the fastest way to deliver news. This spring, The Blood-Horse became the first Thoroughbred industry publication to begin sending “breaking news alerts” via e-mail. Because so many people receive e-mail through their phones or PDAs, headlines reach industry stakeholders regardless of where they are.

Less than two weeks after beginning the breaking news alerts, we launched mobile.bloodhorse.com, a platform allowing those able to access the Web through their phones or PDAs the ability to read stories on BloodHorse.com without being in front of a computer.

Last month, The Blood-Horse discontinued printing hip-by-hip sale results in the weekly magazine. That decision, too, is a sign of the changing times.

A visit to BloodHorse.com, and a click on Auctions, will direct readers to auctions.BloodHorse.com, where the hip-by-hip results of every major Thoroughbred auction in North America in 2008 are archived. Also available is a five-year history of each sale, a breakdown by session, and lists of leading horses, buyers, consignors, and sires.

Every newspaper and magazine in the country is printing fewer pages in 2008 than in 2007. Part of the reason, as described, is the availability of the Web, where more information can be provided. For example, in its July 26 edition, The Blood-Horse included a special report entitled “Losing the Iron Horse?” While it would be impossible to print the entire 232-page report the study was based on in the print magazine, the data is available as a free download at BloodHorse.com.

Magazines and newspapers are also being hit hard by the economy, with escalating costs for paper, fuel, and postage.

By using the Web in concert with the print product, The Blood-Horse is even better able to serve owners and breeders.

The times they are a-changin’.

6 Comments

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STEVE STONE

Amen Dan..Amen..Being in the  publishing field myself..now in my 48th year..(whew) from an advertising discipline..on the trade side..we..like everyone else in the industry are reeling from an econmomic downtick with no light @ the end of the proverbial tunnel..Yes..the WWW has unquestionably assumed the reins in this business and will be our guiding light from here on out..Now I would certainly hope that the thoroughbred racing industry would borrow an page from the technocrats and become more advanced in their thinking..start thinking out of the box...be ahead of the curve and on the cutting edge of advancing their thinking and start to get its house in order...Its long long overdue if its to survive..This beautiful sport is now to vulnerable and can be easily derailed by outside factions if it doesn't start changing its mindset..THE BLOOD-HORSE is doing it..congratulations...then why shouldn't the entire sport do it....Its so very easy if you want to..Thank you always Dan for the window..Steve Stone..East Hanover..New Jersey..

29 Jul 2008 1:20 PM
Rachel

Bloodhorse rocks.

29 Jul 2008 3:46 PM
FSF

After reading many of the Bloodhorse blogs over the past few weeks, I would say one thing this website has done is expose more fans (which is how I classify myself) to stories that were perhaps once only reaching breeders and owners. Some blog comments make me think this is a good thing (and from my perspective, I think it's wonderful to have access to racing coverage this detailed and timely), while other comments make me think maybe the "racing insiders" would prefer not to have to converse with "mere fans" who try to relate their own unique perspectives and life experiences to what they read on this site. I wonder how this issue is handled at the editorial level, and how you keep your primary target audience happy while still reaching a wider, interested audience?

As a little girl, I yearned after a 'Bloodhorse' magazine subscription because of all the beautiful photography and coverage of my favorite sport, but had to settle for 'Horse Illustrated' because that's what my parents were willing to pay for. So, in a way, this site allows me to get what I was after, all these years later.

30 Jul 2008 9:48 AM
UCLinden

Yes, for sure:" the times, they -are - a- changin . If you compare this week's column, you have a few comments, whereas, last weeks column, you had at least 30 comments. People don't just want to read about the thoroughbred, but they have ideas how they'd like to see the industry change, not just for the industry, but the racing fans as well.

Bloodhorse should take notice of this fact. It's not just a few who should be concerned with changes, but the industry as a whole. I believe people want to SEE a change, not read stories. The BIG story should be  .... "YES, horse racing is doing a turn around."

If you don't have a story line, pretty soon you won't have to worry about what type media you use. As the horse industry goes, so goes Bloodhorse.  

I would like to thank Bloodhorse for giving us the opportunity to express our thoughts about the industry some of us have a concern about.  

Yes, the times, they are a changin; we too, as an industry must change along with the times!!

01 Aug 2008 9:24 AM
Maggie

In spite of technological conveniences, there is fun and anticipation in going to the mailbox and pulling out a hard copy of BloodHorse.  To get a complete perspective, I have to have the publication in its entirety, so I can read it in bed, or read it while traveling, and appreciate the format.  It's traditional, and not full of "sound bites".  The writers are knowledgable, articulate, and the photos are wonderful.  I enjoy having access to BloodHorse online, but it doesn't replace the periodical itself; stacks of which I have saved that I can't seem to part with.  I still feel like a kid when I remember first getting my hands on a copy.  Just try to find any racing coverage in Sports Illustrated!

Thanks, from a huge racing fan.

Maggie

01 Aug 2008 11:22 AM
LaHorse

Can you let all of your fans in Louisiana know what is going on with the La HBPA, rumors are flying along with supenas, lots of craziness.  Help, we want to know the truth.

03 Aug 2008 10:14 PM

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