Thursday, October 22, 2009

To the Magazine Academy last night, where our two course magazines (Substance and Made) were shortlisted and one given a special commendation. Both should have won, of course, and the class representatives (hi Esther, Jess, Hannah, Sarah) have every right to be as proud of their work as I am.

The magazine that won (CheapSkate: congratulations Goldsmiths) encapsulated a cute idea and was nicely realised, but it didn't convince me as a real-life project – there's probably only room for once Vice-like successful freebie. Neither did the magazine entitled Wild that attracted special guest Felix Dennis so much that he offered to print a special one-off to be given away with Bizarre. It seemed to be the coverline about the World Farting Championship that attracted him.

Anyhow, Sarah had the nous to pitch Substance to Felix Dennis during the evening, only to be told there would be no advertising, and therefore no wages. I don't know what the pitch was but there's a case for saying Substance is The Week for a younger, hipper readership – and we all know how much Felix loves The Week in all its many international editions. Furthermore, if Substance attracted a decent and defined readership, the advertisers would follow.

On the long train journey home I fell to thinking about why we make these magazines, and it's certainly not to win prizes. Watching an idea develop from a tentative pitch to the class to a confident, polished final edition, complete with extensive website, via an unbelieveable amount of hard work and ruthless (constructive) criticism is the reward. Feeling the buzz as it all comes together and watching the sheer amount of learning is actually fun (for me, and I hope for all concerned); serious fun.

Surely that's why we work in or with magazines. Yes, there has to be money to pay the bills in real life, yes it's lovely to have all that hard work recognised with an award, but above all that it should be fun. If it's not ... do something else.


“How would you know what’s going to happen in the magazine business?” said Mr. Wallace. “You would look at its vital statistics. You would look at its sources of income from consumers, and from advertisers. And you would look at where you’re finding your circulation. We have no problem with circulation for print magazines.

“We have what we believe is a short-term problem with advertising revenue,” he continued. “That problem seems to be improving. How long will there be print magazines? I don’t know. But for as long as there will be, Condé Nast is well positioned.”

From an insightful story about Conde Nast in the New York Observer.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Magazines score marginally better than newspapers

The good news for print magazines in Targetcast tcm's latest survey can be summed up in this short extract:
60% of consumers say newspapers need to change the most to stay relevant, compared to 30% for magazines and nearly 20% for radio.
Then there's this mixed news:
A solid 57% say they prefer the experience of reading a printed magazine over reading a magazine on the Internet. An even stronger 71% would not be willing to pay for an online magazine subscription to replace their printed magazine subscription. Also, only 15% of respondents overall agree that they'd rather read magazines online. Additionally, printed magazines score well in terms of ad attentiveness and purchase influence.
Which goes to prove magblog's insistence that haptics is a very important consideration for print magazines.

Find a proper summary, with tables and everything at

Labels: , , , ,

iPhone app for magazine publishers

Here's a useful post for magazine publishers thinking about developing an app for the iPhone: McSweeney's, the magazine and book organisation founded by Dave "Extraordinary Genius" Eggers has launched one with some interesting and potentially profitable features.

(Of course the author considers it in the light of possible newspaper usage, but what's new ... magazines show the way again.)

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, October 16, 2009

Is journalism a meta-brand?

Nick Brett, the man in charge of BBC magazines, came to talk to Cardiff School of Journalism students this morning. He gave a great, thoughtful, thought-provoking presentation about the bright future that magazines can still have, provided we are all prepared to adapt.

In the Q&A that followed someone asked whether would-be journalists should now attach themselves to a brand rather than a platform (ie newspaper, magazine, television, radio). I had never heard this question asked before and the very fact that it was asked indicates a change in the mindset of the people who will be our future journalists. (Yes, I realise that extrapolating this from a single question is quite extreme, but read on.)

Students who apply to our postgraduate courses in journalism have to specify a strand (newspaper, magazine, broadcast) and to date most of them have no problem with this because they seem to come with a very conventional, and perhaps not very well informed, view of what journalism is and how it works. The newspaper applicants want to be published in print, the magazine applicants want to get long stories about their interests printed and so on. In short, applicants come with quite a conservative outlook.

But perhaps that single question indicates a change, the t of a tipping point. The fact is that if you are a newspaper journalist you will be expected to write stories for print, for a multitude of online services, you may have to create a podcast and, on the Daily Telegraph, you should be prepared to contribute to the video output. The brand you are working for demands this versatility.

This also leads on to questions about journalists and personal brands – Martin Lewis of is a good case in point (as well as being a Cardiff postgraduate alumnus). Robert Peston (sample quote: “the traditional distinctions between television journalists, radio journalists and print journalists are quite close to being obsolete”) might also fall into this category, but it works at a much less elevated level too. The young journalists on our courses are all expected to run their own blogs and encouraged to explore all manner of Web 2.0 technologies. When it comes to getting a job, such activity can have a very positive effect on their personal brand, and its absence can also have a negative effect.

So perhaps the meta-brand in this instance is "journalist": all the things we have regarded as extras are now part of the landscape, a simple given. However much we yearn for a past of typewriters and hot metal we're all part of a bigger brand now.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

B2B: No necessary intrinsic value

B2B publisher considers the value of information online. His conclusion? It all depends on how valuable the reader thinks it is. This conclusion may fall into the NSS category but it's interesting that someone inside the industry is saying it. (As reported in Press Gazette)

My conclusion? Everyone is going to have to work harder at digging out stories that the readers find valuable and getting ... what's that word? ... ah yes, scoops.

Hey – maybe this online thing could be good for journalism!

Labels: , , , ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

More blogs about MagBlog.

View blog reactions