Caroline Little ’81, the North American CEO for the U.K.-based Guardian News and Media, was the subject of the most recent, “So What Do You Do” Q-and-A for Mediabistro.com. Previously CEO at The Washington Post.com, where she led the web sites for the Post, as well as for Newsweek, Slate, and The Root, Little had begun her career as a lawyer. She says that she made the jump in 1997 to digital media because, “when something’s new, there’s a lot of opportunities” and her background had given her an overview of the business.
Asked about the Guardian’s goals in the U.S., its appeal, and its potential sources of revenue—as well as details on her departure from the Post.com— Little is frank and upbeat. What drew her to the Guardian, she says, is that she “found their Web presence to be really innovative.” Noting that approximately a third of the site’s unique new visitors are from this country, Little says, “What I’m trying to do is help grow that audience and—I hate the word but—monetize that audience, because we’ve never had a direct sales force here.”
Noting that the greatest source of revenue for print media has always been advertising, she says that those in digital media are continuing to examine different financial models.
“Paying for content is just one revenue stream. I don’t think it’s going to be the silver bullet.” Instead, she considers the news media’s “assets… your writers, your voice and your sales team.”
Given those, “What can you do with a ‘feet on the street’ sales team? Is there something else they can sell, for example?” She also notes that other publishing companies have found special events to be revenue sources.
“I think it [digital media] has a bright future, but we have some work to do,” she says.
For an earlier article on Little’s career, go to Wesleyan magazine archives, spring ’02, for “Raising Sites:” The Growth of Online News” by William L. Holder ’75: http://www.wesleyan.edu/magazine/magazine/mag_archives/