Magazine article Information Today

Kiplinger Brings Its Letters Online

Magazine article Information Today

Kiplinger Brings Its Letters Online

Article excerpt

These two new services show that more elite sources are moving online

As information has flowed from print publications and proprietary online services to the Web, it has followed a consistent pattern: the cheaper and more common the information, the earlier it has appeared on the Web, whether in free or fee-based Web sites. First came news, stock quotes, and public domain government data; these have always been cheap, and have now become completely commoditized. Then came items like newspapers, consumer magazines, and press releases, which are also inexpensive and widely available, which makes Web distribution less chancy for their producers.

On the other end of the spectrum, expensive and exclusive types of information have made their way to the Web much more slowly and hesitantly. This includes things like forecasting services, advisory newsletters, and market research reports, which have an air of insider status, even mystery, about them. They purport to give you an edge that the masses do not have, to provide secret tips that will advance your fortune or your status. They are expensive, on the notion that you get what you pay for. They are usually not available on newsstands or in libraries. Their publishers have typically been wary of the open, unruly Web, which runs counter to the elitist, exclusive natures of their products.

Leading Advisory Letters

But the Web is like a black hole that sooner or later sucks everything into it. Some of the most prominent insider publications, The Kiplinger Letters, are now on the Web, in fine form. Kiplinger has taken its venerable advisory newsletters and adapted them into a state-of-the-art Web service, with links, interactive departments, and other slick Web tricks. The new product, entitled the Kiplinger Special Service (http://www.special.kiplinger.com), is also closely integrated into the Web itself, with links to hundreds of external sites.

Kiplinger is perhaps the most prominent and well-known name among advisory newsletters. The first title, The Kiplinger Letter, appeared in 1923 with news, commentary, and predictions on business, political events, and trends. Later other Letters were added, covering taxes, agriculture, retirement, and California. (There must be a lot of subscribers there.) The company also publishes books, videos, and Kiplinger Personal Finance, a mass-market magazine covering personal finance and money management.

Among advisory newsletters, the Kiplinger publications are actually on the conservative side. They are not stock pickers, oracles, or fortunetellers. They don't imply that you'll become a millionaire in 6 months if you buy their stock recommendations or otherwise follow their advice. Instead, they provide thorough reporting and reasonable forecasts based on well-informed extrapolation from current trends. They are written in a plain, direct style that abstains from literary or journalistic flourishes.

The Letters' reputable stance and no-nonsense presentation probably account for their longevity and large circulation, as does their relatively low cost. The weekly Kiplinger Letter is $76 per year, and the others range from $56 to $73.

KSS Bundles Kiplinger Content

The Kiplinger Special Service (KSS) bundles The Kiplinger Letters into a single, integrated, full-text database. It isn't arranged by magazine, but instead is in eight broad categories: Economy, Population, Federal Finances, Legislation, Regulation, Strategic Planning, Employee Relations, and Business Resources. Each of these is further subclassified into its major sectors. Economy, for example, is subdivided into Output, Inflation, Consumers, Money, Trade, the Stock Market, etc. It is a logical arrangement, and it demonstrates the wide range of Kiplinger's interests, from labor force projections, banking regulations, and consumer spending patterns to budget deficits, business climate forecasts, and market outlooks. …

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