Though it's not about digital journals, this article is relevant, for it indicates that elite journals are beginning to loose their hold on the community's attention:
Rise of the Rest: The Growing Impact of Non-Elite Journals
Anurag Acharya, Alex Verstak, Helder Suzuki, Sean Henderson, Mikhail Iakhiaev, Cliff Chiung Yu Lin, Namit Shetty
Google Inc. October 9, 2014
Abstract: In this paper, we examine the evolution of the impact of non-elite journals. We attempt to answer two questions. First, what fraction of the top-cited articles are published in non-elite journals and how has this changed over time. Second, what fraction of the total citations are to non-elite journals and how has this changed over time.
To answer these questions, we studied citations to articles published in 1995-2013. We computed the 10 most-cited journals and the 1000 most-cited articles each year for all the 261 subject categories included in Scholar Metrics. We considered the 10 most-cited journals in a category as the elite journals for the category and all other journals in the category as non-elite.
There are two main conclusions from our study. First, the fraction of highly-cited articles published in non-elite journals increased steadily over 1995-2013. While the elite journals still publish a substantial fraction of high-impact articles, many more authors of well-regarded papers in a diverse array of research fields are choosing other venues.
Our analysis indicates that the number of top-1000 papers published in non-elite journals for the representative subject category went from 149 in 1995 to 245 in 2013, a growth of 64%. Looking at broad research areas, 4 out of 9 broad areas saw at least one-third of the top-cited articles published in non-elite journals in 2013. All broad areas of research saw a growth in the fraction of top-cited articles published in non-elite journals over 1995-2013. For 6 out of 9 broad areas, the fraction of top-cited papers published in non-elite journals for the representative subject category grew by 45% or more.
Second, now that finding and reading relevant articles in non-elite journals is about as easy as finding and reading articles in elite journals, researchers are increasingly building on and citing work published everywhere. Considering citations to all articles, the percentage of citations to articles in non-elite journals went from 27% of all citations in 1995 to 47% in 2013. Six out of nine broad areas had at least 50% of total citations going to articles published in non-elite journals in 2013.
Full text online at arXiv (PDF).
I believe at least that in some disciplines, such at physics, primary communication now takes place through preprints, working papers, and conferences. The formal literature is merely archival. By the time a result or idea makes its way into those archives it's already been circulating in the profession and had its influence, at least for the moment.
From my POV as a thinker with somewhat unorthodox ideas, the problem with peer review is, in effect, that my peers don't even get to see my work much less review it because the gate-keepers keep it out of the literature. Now maybe I'm just crazy, or maybe I'm just imaginative and unorthodox, but I don't think that's a decision to be made by a small coterie of elite scholars w/ a legacy to protect.
Printing hardcopy journals is expensive, as is distributing them. So it makes economic, if not intellectual, sense to restrict what's published in them. Those same economics dictates that the articles be as short as possible and that they contain a minimum of illustrations, and the ones they contain should be black and white. And forget about other media.
Online publishing removes those obstacles. Storage and access are so cheap that there's no need to limit length of articles nor use of illustrations. Multimedia, of course, is now trivial. Nor does it really make sense to restrict access by peer review gate-keeping. Let stuff get published freely and let peer review take place after publication, not before.
This means, of course, that there's more stuff to look at and read and that's a problem. But it's a different kind of problem. Now that it's possible for anyone to get their ideas and work out there, why not throw the burden on authors to hustle up a readership for their work?