The C Word

Community, that is. Sometimes it seems as though every media commentator completely overlooks the humble magazine.

Take Anthony Lilley writing about new media in last Monday's MediaGuardian: "The media industry is starting to rediscover communities and all their messy, expensive-to-administer complexity. And we are relearning the lesson that at the heart of communities are conversations which thrive on authenticity. If they don't ring true and connect with members, they fail."

Well stone me. It's not as if magazines have not been doing exactly that for the last 400 years, is it? If you want authentic conversation, try the letters page of a specialist magazine (motorcycles, gardening, fishing, you name it); one better, try the editorial office for the letters which don't get published.

All magazines serve very specific communities and if they don't address them properly they fail. Sometimes at great expense because the market is not there (see CarWeek); sometimes because the market has changed (see Hotdog, another long lasting success from the fruitful loinds of James Brown).

Newspapers may be discovering this well-hidden secret too but once again magazines don't get a look in when Stephen Glover and Kim Fletcher are considering the future of Press Gazette (a magazine which serves its community pretty well but is not always well supported in return).

Glover writes: "Press Gazette has long had a rather heterogeneous constituency comprising regional and national newspaper journalists, who often do not share the same preoccupations. It has also had half a foot in the world of television journalism." But no magazine journalism?

Fletcher writes: "If there is such a thing as a journalistic 'family', it is a highly dysfunctional one. Reporters on popular papers are not keen on reporters from so-called quality ones, regional newspaper journalists don't trust national newspaper journalists, television journalists like only themselves." Again, no magazine journalists.

Are we so beyond the pale?

And given the state of the newspaper industry, should we be glad that we are?

Another C Word ...
... is perhaps being applied to Richard Desmond and PA. The agency is making rapid advances in the world of outsourcing editorial. Not content with Radio Times listings and Andrew Neil's The Business (and online - note the address at the bottom of the splash page), it now looks likely to take over the Daily Express business pages. According to Press Gazette and MediaGuardian, the Express's travel pages could be next. How long until OK! and New go the same way (sorry Kirsty)? Happy often seems as though it is put together by computers anyway.

While we are on that word: Matthew Freud