I moderated a New Communications Forum panel yesterday on the topic of new business models for online publishing. I agree with panelist Tom Foremski's assessment that there are no business models yet ... it's too early, and we're at a stage of experimentation. But there are new businesses, and some of them are doing quite well.
Colin Crawford, senior vp of online for IDG, is helping to transform a number of print properties into profitable online properties, using a variety of leading-edge tools such as vertical search, communities, and lead-generation programs for its B2B readers. Francois Gossieaux, president of Corante, gave a brilliant overview of the many experiments the blog network has conducted, as well as some of Corante's guiding principles (key = "subscribe to the person," not the content). Chris Alden, CEO at Rojo, spoke about how his company is enabling publishers to stay connected with readers with sophisticated uses of syndication (RSS with mojo, as he likes to say).
So, maybe there are no business models -- after all, you can only model when there is a templated idea that can easily be replicated -- but a number of online publishers are succeeding, and we can certainly think of them as role models. Look for the common themes -- experimentation, innovation, community -- and see what we can learn.